December 9, 2008

This Is Tourism?

New York's $13 billion tourism industry is a critical part of our Upstate economy, providing jobs and paychecks for more than 150,000 workers north of the New York City line, according to the state Labor Department.

Tourism is already New York's second biggest industry and, according to one study, increased travel spending could actually rescue Upstate NY from its economic malaise brought on by the decades-long decline of our economic mainstay -- manufacturing.

So with tourism so important to the Upstate economy, why would newly empowered Senate Democrats choose a lawmaker from the South Bronx to be the industry's champion?

Presumed Senate leader Malcolm Smith of Queens yesterday announced that Sen. Jose Serrano will be the chairman of the Senate committee on tourism when the Democrats assume power on Jan. 1. The post is currently held by retiring (but tireless) Buffalo-area GOP Sen. Mary Lou Rath.

Serrano represents one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country - Mott Haven - industrial Port Morris, Manhattan's East Harlem and other tumble down Bronx neighborhoods. The only "tourists" to his district crowd into Yankee Stadium some 80 days each year, straying beyond the stadium perimeter just long enough to find their cars and escape after the game to Connecticut, New Jersey and points north and east.

Of course, with only five Democrat Senators living north of Westchester, Smith had a limited field of Upstate lawmakers from which to choose.

For a leader from Queens, to the south and east of the Bronx, Mott Haven (below) might just look like Upstate.

No comments: