Critics of the Berkshires' tourism-based economy argue that the county needs more manufacturing. This is assuredly true, but that is a false choice. We need both.
The importance of tourism is undeniable, but two recent Eagle stories attest to its significant impact. Tanglewood had its best attendance since 2012, which is in large part due to the strong June schedule of rock and pop music leading into the traditional Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops concerts of July and August (Eagle, September 12.) An enhanced September popular artists schedule would pay more dividends.
Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, and the many Berkshire theaters, museums and entertainment venues, create a critical mass that draws visitors to the county for extended periods. That in turn benefits Berkshire stores, restaurants, and lodging establishments.
A September 13 story focused on faith-based tourism, an unheralded but important aspect of the local tourism picture. Thousands of Catholics visit the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge annually, primarily for ceremonies linked to Divine Mercy Sunday in spring, and Jewish groups come to the Berkshires as well. Jiminy Peak and Eastover have accommodated the specific wants and needs of the latter visitors to encourage their return.
Berkshire County must explore ways to continue its tradition of manufacturing. Tourism will provide an economic base during that process, but beyond that role, tourism must always be an integral part of the economic picture. The county has the aesthetic beauty, the cultural institutions and, we believe, the vision needed to expand tourism in ways that reflect changing times and new visitors.