The debate that has taken place in committee meetings and during county board sessions goes to show just how important tourism is to the county. We think the lively discussions have been pointed and there’s been good arguments on both sides.

At the point of attack has been the Marinette County Tourism Alliance, an organization that has been around a long time and has done some good things for the rural areas where tourism is productive when it comes to an economic lift. There’s no question that Marinette County has an abundant of natural resources that it can offer visitors who prefer this type of recreation and entertainment.

The county has historical museums, picturesque waterfalls, fishing, hunting, camping, breathtaking forests where tranquility hushes the noise usually found in larger recreational offerings. The county fair is always a good place to find something likable for everyone. The stunt water acts are special. The county has much more, of course, and it’s all in their marketing brochures for the four seasons county residents like to brag about.

A move to eliminate the Marinette County Tourism Alliance Committee failed 15-14 at the February meeting of the county board. We’re sure we haven’t heard the last word on this issue. It’s likely to reappear after the Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission submits a strategic plan related to the role the county should assume in promoting and conducting economic development. According to County Administrator John Lefebvre, The Bay Lakes group is looking into the county’s present way of handling economic development. An outside consulting firm is expected to be retained to review the information collected in the Bay Lakes study.

The county has contracted with the City of Marinette for tourism promotion and marketing services, which likely sparked the drive to eliminate the Tourism Alliance Committee. The latter is an advisory unit, which sometimes had trouble in mustering a quorum for meetings.

Supervisor Ginger Deschaine, who represents the Crivitz area where tourism is important to the area’s economic base, said the Tourism Alliance is needed until an alternate plan for promoting tourism is put forth. She claimed the county administrator is more interested in tourism in Marinette and Peshtigo than he is in other parts of the county. She acknowledged the Tourism Alliance doesn’t do much because it has been stripped of much of its life “but at least their conversation is ongoing. At least they are talking about tourism.’’

Supervisor Shirley Kaufman, whose district embraces the City of Marinette, said she was surprised to see a resolution calling for the elimination of the Tourism Alliance, a committee she once served on. She insisted an advisory group is needed to speak out for the rural areas because it brings in different ideas.

The dialogue on the future of the Tourism Alliance has been feverish, but yet refreshing. It’s not unusual to see supervisors from the rural districts become dissatisfied when they feel they are not getting a fair shake. A similar dissent occurred in neighboring counties as well. It’s good to see them stand up and argue for their constituents.

In the meantime, we should sit back and wait for the Bay Lakes Regional Planning report, and what the consulting specialists have to say. There will be plenty of time for more debate on this hot topic.