Sustainable tourism promotes high quality, uniqueness, and home-grown elements that are best suited to promoting the values, local attributes, and quality of life of rural areas and small towns. The contrast of sustainable tourism to mass-market tourism is very stark. While sustainable tourism strengthens local authenticity, mass-market tourism pursues volume — “heads in beds.”

Carpinteria’s downtown is in a unique position to set the standard for our sustainable tourism.

Looking forward while honoring the past, now is the perfect time for community’s leaders to huddle, plan, and set into motion the mechanics required to support our downtown merchants, re-envision local tourism, all while retaining our quaint business corridor for locals and tourists alike.

Carpinteria has 721 hotel rooms with another 72 approved for a new hotel on Via Real, and all are located along Highway 101 — a prime example of mass-market tourism where the primary goal is heads in the bed. Mass-market tourism pays little attention to the consumption of scarce natural resources, local preservation, or future sustainability. Wouldn’t it be smart for us to aim for fewer lower-cost hotels, less traffic, less water usage by offering quality over quantity?

Seems logical we create areas in our visitor-serving downtown where tourists can travel by train, stay in boutique hotels, shop local merchants, all without the need of cars and all required to practice the elements of sustainability. Cities all over the world are leveraging public transportation for their tourism base, why not Carpinteria? And maybe some of those hotels along the 101 can be converted into the much-needed affordable housing our state is mandating.

I champion the model of sustainable tourism and support No on T.


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