The many artists, craftsmen (and women) and creative types who occupy our community face a tough summer.

As gas prices head up the tourists that many in Floyd County depend on for survival stay home. With prices predicted to hit $3.00 a gallon soon, the arts and crafts community of Floyd may face a long, dry spell where tourists stay home.

It that happens, it will be the third straight year that high gas prices have driven down tourism traffic for the area. Traffic on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined by 20 percent in 2004 and 40 percent in 2005.

When gas prices soared above $3.00 a gallon over the Labor Day weekend last year, visitors stayed away from the Carroll County Gun Show and Flea Market, an event already hit hard by vendors who cancelled because of the double whammy of gas prices and Hurricane Katrina.

“People only have so much discretionary income and whenever you cut into it, and we just had two seasons with very high oil prices as well, and if we go into a season with high gas prices, you’ll see discretionary spending at least moderate,” says Greg Dugal from the Maine Innkeepers Association.

The burning question when it comes to gas prices is always: How high is too high?

“The question is, what is that magical price point where people say it’s too expensive,” says Jason Aldous, a spokesman for the Vermont department of Tourism and Marketing.

“Last summer, when gas prices hit $3, we had people cancel (their hotel reservations),” says Scott Edwards, owner of the Daytona Welcome Center, a hotel booking service. “We’ve been down that road before.”

Three dollars a gallon has a “psychological impact that is much worse than the actual impact to the wallet,” he said.

In Floyd County, where a majority of our working population drive 30 miles or more just to get to work each morning, $3.00 a gallon is an actual impact to the wallet.