Investment paying off

Published 4:07 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

By Staff
Washington’s Tourism Development Authority continues to win awards for its efforts to market Washington and its surrounding areas as a destination for tourists.
The latest award comes from the Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina, formerly the North Carolina Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus. The organization recently recognized outstanding marketing efforts for 2007. WTDA was among the recipients of DMANC’s marketing achievement awards.
That should come as no surprise. WTDA has been picking up such awards for several years. Those awards, increases the number of tourists visiting the area and those tourists spending more money while in the area are proof positive WTDA’s market efforts are paying dividends.
Entries for the 2007 Marketing Achievement Awards were received from destinations across North Carolina with varying budgets. The entries were judged by tourism leaders and marketing professionals in neighboring states. Three categories for each award, based on budget size, were selected. The WTDA was in the small bureau category with budgets smaller than $600,000. Other destinations in this category included the New Bern Convention and Visitor Bureau, Duplin County, Metro Hickory CVB and Burlington-Alamance County Convention and Visitor Bureau.
Washington received a platinum award — in the best-print-advertising (leisure) category — for the co-op advertising initiative in Our State magazine that offered tourism partners an opportunity to participate in a larger destination ad. The series of full-page ads ran in Our State magazine in November 2007 and February, April and June of this year.
The tourism authority received the gold award for the newly created marketing campaign for the Washington Civic Center, “Plan Your Retreat,” which was entered in the destination-marketing-initiatives category. A postcard encouraging visitors and business leaders to “Plan Your Retreat” was developed for inclusion in the WTDA’s award winning visitor information package.
Eye Integrated Communications, which is based in Greenville, provides the tourism authority with its comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign.
Partial proof that WTDA’s marketing efforts are paying off can be found in the city’s occupancy-tax revenues generated in recent years.
Occupancy-tax revenue in Washington increased each year during five consecutive fiscal years, from 2001-2002 through 2005-2006, according to data released by the state in August 2007.
In that five-year period, Washington collected $936,678 in occupancy-tax revenue. The city took in $235,869 in fiscal year 2005-2006, up from the $205,856 collected in the previous fiscal year. During fiscal year 2001-2002, the city took in $123,546. That means revenue generated by the occupancy tax almost doubled from 2001-2002 through 2005-2006.
That’s impressive. And it’s good news for WTDA’s marketing efforts because the more tourists who visit the city, the more money WTDA receives to spend of marketing efforts.
Washington’s occupancy tax is 6 percent, meaning a hotel room that rents for $100 a day brings in $6 in occupancy-tax revenue each day its rented.
Under state law, occupancy-tax revenues must be spent on programs and projects designed to bring more people for overnight stays or longer visits to areas served by tourism authorities.
With occupancy-tax revenues increasing, in part, because of more tourists staying in the city, there should be no doubt the money spent by the city on such programs and projects is an investment that’s paying off with impressive dividends.
Although the awards coming WTDA’s way are proof it is doing its job, there’s better proof in the economic impact its marketing efforts are having.
Here’s hoping WTDA’s efforts continue to bring awards and tourists to the city.