Tourism politics?

Dear editor:

Late Friday evening I was surprised when I drove into Starbrick and saw the Warren County Visitors Bureau (WCVB) sign displaying “GO KNIGHTS” on each side.

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t wish the Knights any ill will – but there were THREE county teams involved in post-season play that night. Why just the Knights on a sign that is paid for by County bed tax dollars? Up to that point, I hadn’t really taken a side in the WCVB and WCCBI contest. Up until that point, I naively believed that the issue might be about “what is best for the county.” I looked at the WCVB website for answers and then looked at the WTO articles (including the WCVB paid advertisement on 11/4).

WCVB states that its “main goal is sustainable tourism, to bring visitors into the area for . . . multiple days.” And WCVB “maintain[s] a website . . . and interactive map to promote our area and our local businesses.” The easiest answer, albeit distasteful, is that Sugar Grove hasn’t yet voted on whether to back WCVB or WCCBI and WCVB hoped to gain an edge by publically backing the Knights.

But after looking at the WCVB website and map, it appears that the WCVB is primarily an entity that uses tax money to promote businesses, mostly hoteliers, and perhaps football teams that are related to board members or are in some other manner preferred.

It is hard to explain why the WCVB map promotes only six restaurants in the entire county. Why does the WCVB list twenty-two (22) hotels and other providers of “accommodations”, but only lists three of five county golf courses and fails to provide any information about a significant local art gallery or the county historical society building?

Why is it that almost half (26 of 54) of the events listed on the WCVB October and November calendar are events located outside of Warren County?

I don’t have a horse in this race and I certainly don’t know all of the facts. But when the WCVB’s first argument against a change is that nearly all of its income is derived from the room tax and that it cannot survive without the room tax, I am left to wonder about its real purpose in light of the scarcity of information available except for the promotions of the WCVB’s board members and other “select” businesses. Fill me in if I am wrong because I would prefer a different explanation.

Ray Pring

Warren