By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green officials want to help fill the local hotel beds, restaurants and stores. But to do that, more funding is needed, according to Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau.
So on Monday evening, Chambers and the CVB board made a pitch to Bowling Green City Council.
They asked council to approve a three-year renewal of the current 3 percent hotel/motel tax, with the CVB continuing to get 60 percent of that tax revenue. The board also asked for an additional 1 percent hotel/motel tax, dedicated to the CVB.
Todd McGee, vice chairman of the CVB and general manager at the newly remodeled Best Western Falcon Plaza, explained the tax is paid by visitors to local hotels and motels, and would have no impact on city residents.
The additional funding is needed to do more marketing and advertising, to feed the local economy. “This would grow Bowling Green tourism,” McGee said.
All the hotel and motel owners in the city support the 1 percent increase, he added.
“We are a big destination of sporting events,” with regional youth athletics and BGSU sports filling up local hotels, McGee said. Events such as the Black Swamp Arts Festival, National Tractor Pulling Championships, and concerts also draw overnight guests to the city.
“Now is a perfect time for this increase,” McGee said. A new Fairfield Inn recently opened, and another hotel will be constructed soon. His own location, Best Western, just put more than $1 million in renovations.
“It is our job to bring people, teams and events to fill those local businesses,” he said of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The additional tax revenue would help the Convention and Visitors Bureau enhance its efforts and do a branding initiative.
“We have to keep what’s coming, coming,” Chambers said, listing off examples of the juggling convention and Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure.
“We are pretty full on the weekends,” she said.
But the CVB would also like to focus on drawing visitors to the city during weekdays. That means attracting more business and executive gatherings.
“We need to keep taking it to the next level,” which the additional 1 percent tax will help them do, Chambers said.
In a letter explaining the request to city officials, Chambers reported the hotel/motel tax revenue has increased during the last year by 5 percent after the first two quarters of 2017 and projections are good for the year end.
Increased marketing and outreach to groups hosting events will bring even more people to the city, she said.
“This helps to keep our facilities full, our hotel rates competitive, and to increase the overnight visitors tied to our community. These visitors have the greatest economic impact to our city, when compared to general travelers stopping along the interstate,” Chambers stated in her letter.
“With the 1 percent dedicated additional revenue, it will enable us to put funding towards a cohesive branding campaign, increase marketing dollars and overall outreach and to retain, research and implement new signature events for Bowling Green,” Chambers said.
City Council will act on the request at a future meeting.