Napa locals are arguing against excessive tourism in their areas. Posted by CBS, San Francisco, “the influx of people enjoying Wine Country has changed the landscape, the industry and many argue the quality of life.” What’s the latest? A new group of local residents is fighting for tougher regulation of the wine industry, including cutting back on special events, curbing hours of operation and a return to the focus of winemaking over marketing. According to reports, there are now 800,000 more tourists and 230 more wineries in the county. The area has transformed over the past few decades, as many say, into an “adult Disneyland.”
But where do the locals draw the line on the fun? Napa has more cars driving into and out of the county every day than it has residents. If the number of hotel rooms in Napa grows at the present rate, the city will have half as many hotels as Las Vegas by 2050. Some locals are fed up of out-of-towners taking advantage of their county and treating it as a playground. They also argue to upsurge in tourism has caused the wineries to run overtime and employ more drastic agriculture methods to keep up with the demand, effecting the farmland and natural beauty of the area.
What does wine tourism bring to the area? Destination Analysts recently published an Economic Impact Report regarding Napa Valley’s Visitor Industry. In 2014, the Napa Valley welcomed a total of 3.3 million visitors. The wine area’s visitor industry generated $1.63 billion in total visitor spending inside the county, most of which was generated from local hotel guests ($1.2 billion, or 72 percent of the total). 93% of visitors said they are “likely or very likely” to return. Within the area, tourism supports an estimated 11,776 jobs, most of them in the hotel and restaurant business, according to the visitor profile study by Destination Analysts. Not a bad boost for the local economy.
In an effort to regulate the wineries’ agriculture methods, Napa County’s latest mission to balance winery success and farmland protection will go to the Board of Supervisors on December 8th for what could be a resolution to the latest farmland threat. Supervisors will discuss setting a new limit for how much farmland on rural parcels can be paved over, creating a fast-track for proposed small wineries applications and in most instances prohibiting winery wastewater hold-and-haul for future wineries.
So, what are the immediate effects of curbing the tourism? Unfortunately, the smaller wineries would take the brunt of the cause. They would face major economic impacts because they depend most heavily on the winery tourism to survive in the early days. Moreover, new brands wouldn’t be able to enter the market. Though locals may feel the need for more controlled development, there are greater worries that the process may unduly hurt the industry that spurred it all in the first place.