Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ante up


Cruise lines do it. Beach resorts do it. Other mountain resorts do it. And Sun Valley area businesses should do it, too.

They should band together to help subsidize direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Airlines aren't having an easy go of it. Several are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. They can't afford to fly planes with a lot of empty seats.

The answer is for resort areas to partner with airlines to keep planes coming.

When Sun Valley Company realized that it faced stiff competition from other resorts served by direct flights from major cities, it decided to act. To the tune of $600,000, it guaranteed direct flights on Horizon Airlines from San Francisco and Los Angeles. If planes fly with enough passengers, the company pays less.

That may seem like a lot of money, but it's small compared to the investment made by competing resorts like Jackson Hole, Wyo., which puts $1.2 to $1.4 million on the line every year.

Sun Valley Company should not have to make the gamble alone.

The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau decided to become a partner in the effort by trying to raise $50,000 from local businesses. To date only 56 of the chamber's 610 businesses have contributed a total of $17,000. That's pitiful, given the high stakes involved.

What's needed is a little team play. One way or another, every business in the area benefits from tourism. When it's good, everyone wins.

It's time valley businesses anted up. They should take pen in hand and invest in their own prosperous futures.




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