Barry Kaufman | October 09, 2016 3:30 PM ET
When They Becomes We
It’s a drum we’ve banged more times here at TravelPulse than I can recall: yes, this latest tragedy to befall a tourist destination was bad, but travel will be the engine with which they recover.
I’ve walked the beaches of Los Cabos just days after Hurricane Odile wrenched buildings from their foundations and scattered infrastructure to the wind. I’ve grieved side by side with the French people along the flowers-and-blood-strewn promenade of Nice just days after a terrorist attack.
And every time, I banged that drum. They will recover. They will rebuild. These are places of immense beauty, and tourists will not be held back. And these visitors will bring with them their tourism dollars. And in this way they will rebuild.
They, always they.
Now, they has become we.
I haven’t seen my hometown, Hilton Head Island, since Tuesday, except in pictures. And those pictures bring fresh heartache with every salvo. The iconic 18th fairway at Harbour Town Golf Links, strewn with debris stretching away to a pier which has been washed away to the sea.
Coligny Plaza, where dear friends work and depend on for their livelihood, underwater.
Palmetto Bay Marina, where I take my children to get the best snowcones known to man, a graveyard of boats tossed about like toys in a bathtub.
I watch these things from the safety of the mountains to which I have retreated, viewing them from the same safe distance as anyone else. But as I see each fresh horror roll in, I do so surrounded by friends and family whose fortunes are tied to that island.
My mother-in-law works on the island at an interior design firm that we still have not heard updates on. For all we know, it’s been washed away. My dear friends, my fellow refugees here in the mountains, run a local periodical and coupon book aimed squarely at tourists. In addition to my duties here at TravelPulse, I contribute to several local publications who depend on local businesses for their bottom line. Those businesses, in turn, depend on tourists.
And even beyond ourselves, all of our friends and loved ones have built their lives in an ecosystem that depends on that island’s tourism fortunes.
We’re all just watching our lives fall apart on Facebook and on TV. But we’re all safe, and we’re all together, and as check-ins have floated in after the storm we’ve found that none of us suffered any damage in the storm.
We still don’t know when we’ll be allowed to return. We held out hope for Sunday. Then our governor told us to wait. So now, we wait.
But then, we will recover. We will rebuild.
This is a place of immense beauty, and tourists will not be held back. And these visitors will bring with them their tourism dollars.
And in this way we will rebuild.
Just as the sun now shines on a Los Cabos made new by the rejuvenating power of tourism. Just as the promenade in Nice bears little sign of the evil that befell it.
We will rebuild.
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