A couple of weeks ago, in this very newspaper, Ted Carleton, editor, publisher, etc. etc., printed an editorial highly critical of the Town’s spending on marketing and the goals and methods of Mammoth Lakes Tourism. Full disclosure, I am a member of the Board of Directors of MLT, although I am not speaking for the Board or the organization here, just expressing my own opinions.
That said, and surprising though it may seem, I believe a majority of the Board does not entirely disagree with Ted or some of his conclusions/recommendations. But first, our disagreements. While Ted may be right about the total income of the Town, I suspect his percentage comparisons with other jurisdictions are not apples to apples.
MLT and its director, John Urdi, pushed hard for the TBID, which, with the explosive growth of summer business, has begun to pay off gangbusters. It is not simply a check written from the general fund, a good portion of our funding was conceived of, chased after, and brought to realization by John and his staff and others, including yours truly. The fact of a large portion of MLT funding coming from the TBID should be a source of congratulations, not recriminations. It is as close as you can get to the entrepreneurial spirit being alive and kicking in a quasi-governmental institution.
Ted also argues that simply attracting people to come to Mammoth with our marketing dollars is not enough; the MLT, among others, Ted says, should work to insure that there is something for those folks to do when, attracted by MLT advertising, they actually get here. On that score, the MLT Board has been having those same discussions for months. Does the MLT, having successfully marketed Mammoth, have an obligation to take a role in what Mammoth has to offer when our tourists arrive? The Board’s conclusion has been that, as the organization most directly and entirely involved in tourism, and the Board consisting of people whose own livelihoods are largely, if not entirely, dependent on tourism, of course we have something to offer that should be part of the Town discussion on what Mammoth ought be providing for our visitors’ enjoyment.