Take advantage of what city’s asset offers

Published 12:42 am Sunday, June 7, 2009

By Staff
Although Washington’s waterfront gets plenty of use, it’s heartening to see it being used more and more.
When the waterfront is being used, that means people are taking advantage of what makes Washington so attractive to many folks. And the more people the waterfront draws to the city, the better for Washington’s businesses.
Merchants, restaurant owners and other business owners know from past experience that events such as the Summer Festival, Smoke on the Water and the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships help bring visitors — and potential customers — to their establishments. But this year, several new events and activities have joined or will join the list of activities that should draw more people to the city.
And at a time when the economy is suffering, the increased foot traffic these events generate should benefit shopkeepers.
New this year are the Beaufort County Traditional Music Festival, Washington Wake Fest and the Little Washington Sailing Club’s sailing classes. They either have or will bring people to the city’s waterfront, providing opportunities for local businesses to entice the visitors to enter their doors and do business.
Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, says Washington could use even more events — and a variety of multiple-day events — that bring people to the city and its waterfront.
“It’s economic stimulus for us. We get a lot of people who have never been to downtown Washington. After they see what we’ve got to offer, many of them come back,” Tomasulo said in a recent interview.
It would be nice for a manufacturer that would employ 500 people to locate in Washington, but the city and its businesses can’t afford to wait for that to happen.
Tourism is a form of economic development. Tourists spend money, especially if they also spend two, three or more days in a location. Tourism may not be the sole answer to reviving an ailing economy, but during an economic crisis of this caliber, any legitimate source of revenue is welcome.
These days, the waterfront needs to be used — in appropriate ways, of course — as much as possible. It’s an asset that, when used properly, can pay off in big dividends.
Bring on the festivals!