In cities from Memphis to San Francisco, partnerships accept formed amid airports, accommodation of business and tourism bureaus in abutment of a accepted ambition — alluring visitors.
Those visitors may be vacationers today, but could transform into investors tomorrow. Even if they don’t, the money they absorb on leisure activities, aliment and abode boosts the economies of cities, counties and states.
But while tourism alliances accept been artificial elsewhere, capacity amid agencies accept festered in Greenbrier County.
With the Greenbrier Canton Airport Ascendancy assertive to actualize its own Convention and Visitors Agency (CVB), the county’s accustomed CVB is extending an olive branch, announcing an “airport and tourism business assignment session,” to be captivated at 9 a.m. Thursday in Lewisburg. In accession to the airport ascendancy and host Greenbrier Canton CVB (GCCVB), those access to participate in the alive affair are Greenbrier Canton commissioners and assembly of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation.
“We attending advanced to laying the background for a added collaborative accomplishment to access tourism in Greenbrier County,” addendum the GCCVB’s columnist absolution apropos the meeting.
Greenbrier Valley Airport administrator Stephen Snyder took a added confrontational access to the affair while speaking at a Greenbrier Canton Agency affair on Sept. 25.
“The cachet quo doesn’t booty abundant effort,” Snyder said, in an accessible bash at the GCCVB.
He predicted some “uncomfortable conversations” will booty abode as the airport ascendancy moves advanced with its affairs for a abstracted CVB — the aboriginal of its affectionate in West Virginia.
Some of those afflictive conversations Snyder anticipates will centermost on funding, as he warned commissioners, “We’re activity to allocution about hotel-motel taxes.”
Collected from abode establishments aural a government entity’s jurisdiction, hotel-motel control tax acquirement is a big-ticket account for both Greenbrier Canton and the burghal of Lewisburg. The canton pulls bottomward about $1 actor a year in the alleged “bed taxes,” mostly from brief guests at The Greenbrier resort, while Lewisburg’s 2017-18 collections totaled $569,770.
By law, as the county’s alone tourism bureau, the GCCVB receives at atomic bisected of the bed tax acquirement calm by the canton and anniversary of its municipalities that additionally appoint the tax (Lewisburg, White Sulphur Springs, Ronceverte and Alderson). That acquirement comprises about 84 percent of the GCCVB’s $1,057,838 budget. Nearly 40 percent of that account goes for marketing, with a agnate bulk spent on cadre costs.
Although airport admiral haven’t said how abundant of that bed tax acquirement they plan to seek for their CVB, accompaniment cipher would acquiesce up to 100 percent of the control taxes calm by the canton — or any of its towns — to be allocated to the new bureau. Where added than one CVB is amid aural a canton or municipality, the allotment allocated to anniversary is larboard up to the “sole discretion” of the applicative assemblage of government — in this case, either a burghal board or the canton commission.
In his abode to the agency aftermost month, Snyder said the airport needs to aggrandize into a bounded facility, rather than abide a county-governed entity.
“My job doesn’t stop at the canton line,” he said. “We accept to attending at a bounded concept.”
The accomplishment to aggrandize airport operations, however, is bedfast by the baby cardinal of Greenbrier Valley flights the Federal Aviation Administration will angel through its Essential Air Account (EAS) program, Snyder said. Currently, the EAS arrangement with Skywest Airlines provides alone 12 round-trip flights per anniversary at the airport, breach amid Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Snyder said he and the ascendancy appetite to anatomy a CVB in adjustment to access bed tax allotment to angel flights to Atlanta — $6,000 for anniversary flight leg. The subsidy would end if and back the flights ample up with advantageous customers, he said.
GCCVB controlling administrator Kara Dense told The Register-Herald that creating a CVB for the sole purpose of advantageous a flight subsidy is “not the best scenario.”
In adjustment to accommodated accompaniment code’s analogue of a CVB, the new agency would accept to be a nonprofit association and apply a full-time agents alive alone to advance tourism and allure conventions, conferences and visitors to the region.
That would entail staffing costs and added aerial for the new CVB, accompanying what is already in abode at the GCCVB and appropriately “watering bottomward the money available,” Dense said.
“It aloof doesn’t accomplish sense,” she said. “We accept aggregate actuality (at the GCCVB) accessible and working. We accept an 18-year history, and we’re able-bodied thought-of in the state. We do a abundant job.”
Dense said it’s bright that the GCCVB and airport admiral “have the aforementioned goals” — to allure added visitors to the canton and the arena beyond. She acicular out that the GCCVB already works cooperatively with tourism cadre in adjacent counties, with Visitors Centermost agents commonly accouterment advice about activities not aloof in Greenbrier but additionally Pocahontas, Monroe and Summers counties.
“I’m aloof acquisitive for acceptable appearance at the affair (on Thursday),” Dense said. “There’s no acumen we can’t assignment together. We all charge to sit bottomward at the table and appear up with an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that will authorize an air account development committee, and access at a set allotment of money for that service.”
Thursday’s 9 a.m. airport and tourism business assignment affair will be in the Rahall Conference Room of the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Centermost in Lewisburg. The affair is accessible to the public.
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