KOFO Local News

Proposal to overhaul tourism efforts draws ire from tourism board, public

Posted in Uncategorized by kofonews on March 25, 2015

OTTAWA – Some Franklin County commissioners have questioned the effectiveness of the Franklin Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the group’s finances. That prompted an angry response Monday from members of the tourism board, which oversees the bureau and its employees, and members of the public. The county has a contract with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to conduct tourism efforts and operate the visitor’s center on K-68 on the eastern edge of Ottawa. Commission Chair Colt Waymire has offered one proposal that would scrap the existing independent board and replace it with an advisory board, as well as have the county directly disburse money from the tourism fund, which is financed by a special sales tax, on motel beds. At the request of commissioners, county administrator Jon Holmes did a study of the CVB, its finances and conducted a special focus group looking at the group and tourism. Holmes said he had some concerns including the independent status of the board, how money is awarded to tourism-related groups, the effectiveness of the group’s tourism efforts as well as the declining numbers of visitors who stop at the visitors’ centers. However, members of the tourism board and members of the public defended the CVB and accused the commission of trying to grab power and money. Commissioner Roy Dunn, who is the county’s representative on the tourism board, also defended the CVB. They also accused Holmes and commissioners of trying to cut them out of deliberations concerning tourism. Waymire said he was surprised by the hostile reaction to the commission’s review. “There are a lot of people who are mad at me,” Waymire said. “… I didn’t write this to do that … this conservcation hasn’t been a pretty one.” However, it’s the job of the commissioners to oversee how public money is spent and to look at the most efficient ways to do things, he said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2 p.m.

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