FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – The Fayette County Commission met on Thursday to discuss cutting the budget of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau by 7.5%.
It was an idea brought forward by Fayette County Commissioner Tom Louisos.
The motion to reallocate hotel motel tax money to be used for recreational development died as neither of the other commissioners voted to second the motion.
“We were going to put in into a recreational development account with other areas that I was wanting to draw money from to build a revenue base or a capital and use that every year for grants and to develop trails, put-ins, take-outs for families with kayaks and everything,” Louisos said.
Before the motion, New River Gorge CVB Executive Director Becky Sullivan gave a presentation to the commission saying that county tourism was on an uptick with 780 jobs created based on tourism and visitor spending was up to $70.4 million.
The budget cut would hurt their marketing campaign with Visit Southern West Virginia.
“The plan that he [Louisos] has for the recreational development and the trails development, I’m all for,” Sullivan said. “The cut to the budget, though, would mean cuts to marketing. The marketing was what we wanted to keep in place to keep it going to increase tourism, travelers, visitors, people coming here to do the recreation.”
Visit Southern West Virginia Director Lisa Strader was also in attendance to talk about the importance of keeping the New River Gorge CVB as a partner because they are such a symbol and bring so much in to the state.
Right now, the county provides an extra 7.5 % of the hotel motel tax to the CVB on top of the 50% they already recieve, and then the CVB matches the 7.5% to pay Visit Southern West Virginia for their partnership.
That 7.5% is what Louisos wanted to move elsewhere.
“Our bylaws say that we need a 15% partnership, so the New River Gorge CVB and the Fayette County Commission agreed about 12 years ago to set it up that way ,so if it would have been approved it would have actually impacted both the New River Gorge CVB as well as our budget,” Strader said.
While it did not pass, those in attendance said it created an important conversation about the county’s CVB and what it is bringing to the area.
For Louisos, he says he is open to ideas about where he could get that money for the recreational development plan and the CVB says they are willing to help him brainstorm and look at grants.
The county’s budget is still being developed so there are no new numbers on the hotel motel tax revenue but Louisos said that in 2014/2015, the county recieved $361,905.68 in hotel motel tax and that amount has gone up since then.