Columbus, OH An innovative and new way of funding tourism promotion activities in the State of Ohio was signed into law last week with S.B. 314. As the interim director of the Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Sea Grant Tourism Program Director Melinda Huntley is working with state and industry leaders to communicate the workings of the new funding model and to ensure an easy transition for the industry.
The new funding model is incentive-based, meaning it is linked to a percentage in the growth of sales tax collected from tourism-related businesses. The better the return on investment, the more money the Office of TourismOhio will be able to re-invest in marketing the state.
“Having more firepower to fund Ohio’s tourism efforts will mean the state will be able to be more competitive”? said Huntley. “And when the state is able to attract more visitors, local communities benefit through increased visitor spending. When the new funding becomes a reality in late 2014, there will also likely be more cooperative marketing efforts developed by the Office of TourismOhio, which will mean added opportunities for local businesses and attractions.”? The new funding model is a 5-year pilot project, and it is capped at $10 million each year.
Huntley participates in the Ohio Tourism Roundtable, a consortium of the four leading state tourism trade associations that focuses on identifying collective issues and opportunities for the tourism industry. By working together, the Ohio Travel Association, the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, the Ohio Restaurant Association, and the Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus have unified the tourism voice in Ohio and been a great example of how collaboration is possible. Huntley and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Director Matt MacLaren recently shared the Ohio Tourism Roundtable story with other organizations and associations in Ohio attending an Ohio Society of Association Executives event.
Tourism is a $10 billion industry within the seven coastal counties of Ohio, representing a large share of the state’s tourism economic activity. Recognizing Lake Erie tourism’s important role in the Ohio economy, as well as the importance of state policies at the local level, Ohio Sea Grant has been active in statewide tourism leadership for several years, including the training of tourism industry members for statewide leadership roles through the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy.
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
Melinda Huntley, firstname.lastname@example.org