Preparing to do an even better job

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008

By Staff
The Washington Tourism Development Authority’s efforts to bring more visitors to the Original Washington, Beaufort County and surrounding areas continues to pay off, this time with the WTDA’s director being the beneficiary.
In recent years, those efforts have paid off with the WTDA’s marketing campaigns winning numerous awards. Last month, those efforts paid off again when Lynn Lewis, Washington’s tourism-development director was selected to attend the Southeast Tourism Society’s 2008 Marketing College.
She is one of two Marketing College scholarship recipients from North Carolina. Her selection to attend the Marketing College was made by the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development and Miles Media. Lewis carries out the policies of the Washington Tourism Development Authority, which hired her in 2003. Marketing College will be held on the campus of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlongea, Ga, the last week of this month.
Lewis is doing an excellent job when it comes to attracting more people to Washington. Attending Marketing College should help her do even a better job, which will be good news for the area’s economy. And with that economy facing some challenges in the coming weeks and months, the more people who visit, stay and spend money in the area, the better off area merchants, restaurant owners and other businesses will be.
Does the money the WTDA invests on efforts to bring more tourists to the area pay dividends? Information regarding the 2006 tourism year, the latest year for which data is available from the state, indicates the WTDA and city are benefiting from that investment. Figures for 2007 should be available to the public by late August.
Tourism in Beaufort County generated an economic impact of $61.74 million in 2006, a 6.3 percent increase over 2005, according to a statewide study.
That $61.74 million placed Beaufort County 47th in travel impact among the state’s 100 counties in 2006. In 2005, the county ranked 46th. As for 2006, that year marked the fifth year in a row the county’s tourism-related revenues exceeded the $50 million mark. Since 1990, the county’s tourism revenue has nearly doubled. Those revenues were reported at $26.64 million in 1990.
In 2005 tourism generated an economic impact of $58.08 million for the county, a 12.5 percent increase over 2004. The statewide study — The 2006 Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties — was prepared for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development by the Travel Industry Association of America.
Additional 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.
As impressive as those figures are, Lewis is convinced she and the WTDA can do even better.
Lewis also said she is excited about the “intensive training” she will receive and anxious to meet the tourism-industry experts serving as instructors at Marketing College so she can “learn from them.”
With the successes she and the WTDA have had in recent years, perhaps those experts will learn something from Lewis during her time at Marketing College.
Information about the city’s tourism-development efforts shows that she and the WTDA know what they are doing.