County Funds CVB Marketing Plan

June 19, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County commissioners have agreed to fund some of the marketing efforts of the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the fifth straight year. Commissioners gave the CVB $884,000, or 20 percent of the annual revenue from the Lodging Excise Tax, to lure travelers and conventions to the area.

“I’ve been tremendously impressed with the work that they’ve been doing,” said Kent County Chairman Steve Heacock, who also chairs the Convention and Arena Authority board. “We’re popping up on lists that we’ve never been on before.”

CVB President Steve Wilson said the bureau has booked $13.5 million in new business for DeVos Place, the convention facility under construction. Of that total, Wilson said $4.4 million is national business. Work at DeVos Place is expected to be fully complete in early 2004.

The county agreed to contribute a portion of the hotel/motel tax to the CVB beginning in 1998, when the bureau received $806,470. Since then, the CVB has received $807,642, $835,492, $865,000 and $884,000 for 2002.

The county’s latest allocation marks the final year of its five-year pledge to provide funding support. County Commissioner Katherine Kuhn said the agreement would be reviewed next year and the board would decide whether or not to continue the funding.

With travel and tourism down because of the terrorist attacks last month, total revenue from the Lodging Excise Tax may be lower than it has been in recent years. Five small groups postponed scheduled trips to the city last month and hotel stays also were down for September.

But Amway Grand Plaza Hotel President Joe Tomaselli reported last week that business for his hotel looks better for October.

According to the CVB, the county’s contribution will generate $37 million for the local economy from convention and visitor spending.

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