Tourism reports ‘good year' in Clearfield County|
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Clearfield County Commissioners received a wrap up on 2012 from the Visit Clearfield County Director Holly Komonczi at their workshop meeting yesterday.
"We had a good year," Komonczi said.
However, she said the county's revenues from hotel taxes for the third quarter of this year are down about $10,000 when compared to the third quarter of 2011.
But she said last year Visit Clearfield County had a banner year in hotel tax revenues and said 2011's third quarter was its best quarter ever.
She said it is still too soon to tell how the fourth quarter revenues will be. She said she wouldn't get those numbers until late January or February, when asked by The Progress.
But she said hotel tax revenues are on a similar pace for the same time period during 2010.
Commissioner Mark McCracken asked if the situation at Penn State had anything to do with the decline in the third quarter numbers.
Komonczi said it is possible especially the September home Penn State games which would have been included in the third quarter numbers.
But she said with the appointment of new head football coach Bill O'Brien at Penn State and the better than expected season this year, she said they are optimistic that the numbers will turn around next year.
Komonczi said market research shows that most of the hotel stays in Clearfield County are along Interstate 80 and most of the hotel rooms in the county are in close proximity to I-80 as well.
She said there are about 1,352 hotel rooms in the county, and about 1,100 of these rooms are in close proximity to I-80.
She said research shows that most of the travelers who stay overnight in the county are staying here as a stopover point on their way to somewhere else.
She said this offers a unique opportunity to the county for it can market the county to those people in an attempt to get them to come back to the county as a destination.
According to Komonczi, research shows that one job is created for every 296-room night, which would translate into approximately 500 jobs being created in the county from the tourism and travel industry.
"That's what we are all about, creating jobs and economic development," Komonczi said.
McCracken said there was some controversy back in 2005 over the county breaking away from the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau to form its own tourism promotion agency but history has shown that this decision was "100 percent" the correct one.
Prior to 2005, the county's tourism promotion agency was the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau of Brookville, which provided tourism promotion on a regional basis to a consortium of counties including Cameron, Clarion, Jefferson and Forest counties.
When the county implemented its hotel room tax, it was proposed that each of the counties, including Clearfield, give half of their hotel tax revenues from PA Great Outdoors with the other half remaining in the counties to use on such things as a tourism grant program.
McCracken was asked by The Progress if there was one advantage with staying with Great Outdoors in that the county would have had more money for tourism grants than it does now.
According to Visit Clearfield County's 2013 budget, the county is expected to receive $471,950 from hotel taxes; if it had stayed with Great Outdoors, the county would have retained $235,975, which it could have used for tourism grants.
In its 2013 budget, about $120,000 is budgeted to be spent on tourism grants, $90,000 to be allocated by the tourism authority and $30,000 by the county commissioners.
But McCracken said it wouldn't have been advantageous for the county to stay with PA Great Outdoors, because now all of the county's hotel tax revenues are spent on promoting the county instead of only half of it.
He also said the county is already being promoted on a regional basis under the PA Wilds Program.
According to Komonczi, Visit Clearfield County is budgeting to spend $120,000 on tourism marketing in 2013. But, she said when everything is included it will probably closer to $150,000 when other expenses are included.
Other expenses in its budget include $149,970 on payroll expenses, which includes health insurance, Medicare, Social Security etc., $31,310 on facilities and equipment.