The summer tourist season in Berkshire County peaks with this long Labor Day weekend and it will have been a good one for the region. The reopening of the Clark Art Institute anchored a summer that appears to have been particularly successful for local cultural institutions, restaurants and the lodging industry.
Speaking before the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce at the Williams Inn on Wednesday, Williams College economics professor Stephen Sheppard said the 63,000 visitors who flocked to the Clark after it reopened July 4 following a $145 million expansion project also boosted other area businesses, which a 14 percent growth in North Berkshire hotel stays over 2013 testifies to. Many Berkshire second-home-owners came to the county first as visitors, and this summer’s boom may produce more in the years ahead.
In recent years, Berkshire cultural attractions have been uniting their marketing efforts which encourages visitors to explore more than one venue. Pittsfield has also fully joined the tourist scene which it was loathe to do in its heyday as a home for major industry.
A debate has played out on The Eagle’s letters page this summer about the alleged rudeness of people whose cars are adorned by out-of-state license plates. It seems unlikely that Berkshire natives are any more or less friendly than our visitors, and no one wants to be judged on the bad manners of a few.