Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Delta Tourism article in Sac Bee

Overall, this is a good article and I generally agree with the main points in the article in the report.  Public access to the water in the Delta could/should be greatly improved, and there is a lot of growth potential for recreation in the Delta.

But there is an incorrect number in the article that could be misintepreted.  The Sac Bee article states.
Mandated by 2009 water reform legislation, the report says visitor spending in the Delta generates $784 million annually and supports 15,000 jobs. There is potential for much more if only there were more trails, campsites and waterfront access.
Here is what the report actually says.
Economic Activity in the Delta. The purchase of equipment and supplies for day outings helps support local economies.

Visitor spending in the Delta and Suisun Marsh counties’ recreation, art, and entertainment sectors is about $784 million annually, generating almost $388.7 million in earnings and supporting over 15,000 jobs.
Did you notice the subtle difference?   It's easy to see how this was misinterpreted by the reporter.  I think it would be by most people.

I have no idea why this number is even in the State Parks report.  The numbers are correct, but have little to do with the Delta.  It is the total of arts, entertainment, and recreation in the 5 counties that include the Delta.  I checked the numbers, and about 20% of the total is the Sacramento Kings NBA team.  The arena in Natomas may be in a flood zone, but it isn't in the Delta.  The next biggest things are 6 Flags amusement park in Vallejo, and scores of golf courses, fitness clubs, bowling centers, and arts related organizations.  Marinas are the biggest Delta-related piece of this and employ about 300 people in the 5 counties, mostly in the Delta. 

The impact of tourism and recreation in the Delta is a very hard thing to measure, and it will be important to get the number right for some of the current and upcoming policy discussions surrounding the Delta.  I am part of a group that is developing a more reliable estimate, and will share that once we have it.  A very rough ballpark would be $250 to $500 million, and the largest and fastest growing component of that spending is gasoline. 

Even defining Delta tourism and recreation is tougher than you might think.  "Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Healthy Heroes" is coming to the Stockton Arena this month and is in the legal Delta.  Would you count it?

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