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The baby boomer impact

Jim Lamont

Following is an excerpt of a report by Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association, assessing Vail’s economic and community development. We will run parts of the report each day in this space until completed. This is part 3.The Destination Guest and Day-Visitor Market Cycle: As a resort, Vail derives its primary economic value from the use of federally owned public land. It is obligated to guarantee access by every aspect of the American public to on-mountain amenities located on adjacent federal public land. The stability of the community’s economic future is dependent upon its obligation to guarantee access without destroying those environmental attributes that cause demand. It is necessary then for the Vail economy, without assistance from federal authorities, to provide the required infrastructure to guarantee “equal opportunity” of access. This is an unfair and potentially destructive obligation put upon the Vail community by federal and Eagle County authorities. The mountain operator derives benefit from using municipal services and facilities, but does not make adequate financial contribution to defray their usage. Providing access is an “extraordinary” public cost that must be produced from the “profits” derived from providing services to both the day-visitor and destination guest in the resort town center. Thus goes the cycle, if the capacity to service the day-visitor is to increase, so must the facilities to accommodate the destination guest. At some point, the deficit between the local government’s subsidization of on-mountain activities and the revenues it derives from sales tax revenues generated in the resort town center creates an imbalance that deprives the remainder of the community from adequate public services. The need to rely on redevelopment to generate revenues to offset these deficits through increasing the density of development becomes self-defeating. After repeated cycles of redevelopment to offset deficits, the community quality of life and natural environment become over-saturated, losing its desirability both as a community and a resort. Economic Impact of Destination Guests Becoming Part- and Full-Time Residents: The dynamics of the destination guest market will transform the characteristics of Vail’s population through the convergence of demographic and geopolitical conditions. The perception of vulnerability to international terrorism is causing many to seek sanctuary in communities they believe to be safe havens. Demographers predict retirees from the baby boomer generation will fuel an explosion in the part-time and permanent populations of resort communities. Many, who begin as destination guests, will buy real estate and become part-time or permanent residents. The advancing wave of immigration will overwhelm any effort to social engineer the socio-economic and political mix of the indigenous population to maintain their dominance over the political system. Glimpses into the magnitude of their economic importance are the landmark findings of a first-of-its-kind survey of the economic impact of second-home owners, which reported that they bring in more outside dollars (34 percent) than do winter guests (28 percent). Second-home owners support 44 percent of the jobs, including transient construction jobs, in the region. The Destination Guest Market: Creating beautifully appointed settings and buildings is but one-step in the intricate task of fashioning the subtle social and cultural complexity that is the vitality and excellence of a cosmopolitan resort community economy. The transformation of Vail’s resort center is a response to the maturing expectation of its customers. If it is to succeed, in a highly competitive global economy, it must generate a dynamic and engaging lifestyle to attract and hold the loyalty of a new generation of urbane consumers. Therefore, the diversity and sophistication of both resort and community must become a reflection of the consumers’ interests. Centers of Creativity and Cultural Tourism: Vail is making steady advancement in cultural tourism, but these efforts must be scaled up to match its redevelopment ambitions. There is mounting evidence that communities that are centers of “cultural tourism” and “intellectual creativity” readily adjust to rapidly changing market conditions because they attract adaptable, higher income consumers, and jobs. To practitioners in fields of intellectual creativity, the creative arts and pertinent educational opportunities are prerequisites to attract and hold their loyalty as either a guest or resident. Additionally, for themselves and their families being assimilated into the community is equally important.Vail, Colorado


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