Readers’ Forum

COT’s vision

Dear editor:

The Warren County Commissioners’ decision to change the designated Tourism Promotion Agency (TPA) in Warren County rests on the history of the Council on Tourism and its comprehensive vision of tourism as an essential building block of Warren County’s future.

The Council on Tourism (COT) was initially conceived by seven members of the first Leadership Warren County (LWC) class in 2008. This LWC group envisioned an organization that would bring better synergy and structure to tourism in Warren County.

Several attempts were made to include the Warren County Visitors Bureau (WCVB) in the development of this organization (COT) and the establishment of the director’s position and the physical and financial support structure for the initiative. All efforts with WCVB were met with resistance, so the group approached the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) who embraced the idea, assisting the LWC team through several information seeking meetings that included business and government leaders. WCVB representatives were invited to participate in these meetings, but they chose not to become involved.

Recognizing that tourism is an important industry to help grow the local economy, WCCBI elected to establish a focused tourism development program.

The COT director’s position and a board of directors’ structure were developed and implemented within the WCCBI framework, tasked with the goals to:

-Improve the collaboration, communication and marketing of events and activities happening within Warren County.

-Develop new multi-day events and activities within Warren County that will also compliment existing events.

-Facilitate and coordinate the development and construction of additional tourism related infrastructure and assets.

Since COT’s inception, the WCCBI has worked diligently to accomplish these goals. The creation of a destination website www.warrenadventures.com and integration into www.wccbi.org provides visitors with travel information including, lodging, attractions, restaurants, and event information. This website is there for all of Warren County to utilize, and any organization (regardless of membership in WCCBI) can submit events or activities to the constantly updated events calendar. In an era when the internet is perhaps the best marketing tool for tourism, COT has done a wonderful job making information available online.

Exciting new events have been brought to the community including, Tour De Russell Bike Race, Gus Macker Basketball Tournament, Grass Roots Adventure Races, Warren County Open Golf Tournament, I COT a Fish, The Gran Fondo of the Alleghenies Cycling Ride, Regions 3D Archery Tournament, The Kansas City BBQ Society State Championship BBQ Cook-off, USCA Canoe and Kayak Nationals, The Warren Archery Series, and the Warren County Outdoor Show. These events each cater to specific sectors of the population so as to maximize the potential visitors market for Warren County.

COT works with any tourism organization or business as well as communities across Warren County to help them grow as part of the tourism industry infrastructure. Some of the organizations supported include: Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways, Conewango Creek Watershed Association, Allegheny River Cleanup, Running Revolution, Northern Allegheny Outdoor Women’s Association (NAOWA), Johnny Appleseed committee, Russell Jubilee, Revitalization of Youngsville, Wild Woods Animal Park Seneca Indian Festival, Warren Explorer Post and the City of Warren Christmas parade. The support provided by COT/WCCBI to these organizations and events varies based upon need. WCCBI/COT offers marketing and promotional assistance to all. In addition, we sometimes share equipment to reduce direct expenses, and sometimes, WCCBI/COT personnel become directly involved in planning or administering the event.

COT continues to work diligently to accomplish the mission that began as a grass roots effort by seven members of the Leadership Warren County Class of 2008 to improve tourism in Warren County.

We encourage municipal officials across Warren County to support the decision rendered by the Warren County Commissioners to name the WCCBI/COT as the recognized Tourism Promotion Agency for Warren County.

Signed by the current COT/COD Board Members

John Beard, Northwest Savings Bank

Jamie Frederick, Northwest Savings Bank

Jennifer Werth, Fifth Avenue Cake Works

Jay MacDonald, Tim Hortons

Gary Wert, Grizzly Gary Outdoors

Kay Eadie, Leadership Warren County COT Group Alumni, Northwest Savings Bank

Todd Ristau, Leadership Warren County COT Group Alumni

Dean Wells, Wells Hog Wild BBQ Company

Chris Dolan, YMCA of Warren County

Kerry Gern, Leadership Warren County COT Group Alumni

Kevin Hall, United Refining Company

George Lilja, Warren General Hospital