By Express Staff
The Idaho Travel Council awarded last week nearly $2.6 million dollars in Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant funds to 33 regional travel committees, chambers of commerce and other nonprofit organizations.
The grants were awarded July 27 and July 28 during the council's annual meeting in Boise to consider funding requests from tourism-related organizations across the state.
Among recipients in Central Idaho, the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau took home the greatest prize, $269,000. The Hailey Chamber of Commerce was awarded $5,700, the Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce received $25,400 and the Challis Area Chamber of Commerce was granted approximately $5,800.
The Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association received approximately $61,600 and the Idaho RV Campgrounds Association received approximately $49,400.
The organizations use the grant dollars to fund promotional programs designed to market cities or their region as a tourism destination. Program elements include print and electronic advertising, brochures, travel shows, direct-mail campaigns, industry research and the creation of Web sites.
"These grants provide a vital source of funding that communities and organizations use to promote Idaho as a premier travel destination," said Commerce and Labor Director Roger B. Madsen. "The tourism industry is a major source of good jobs and a major influence in Idaho's ongoing economic development efforts."
The grants, which are awarded annually, are funded by a 2 percent tax on accommodations at all hotels, motels or private campgrounds. By law the state of Idaho receives 45 percent of the tax proceeds for tourism promotion. The travel council is required to disperse the remainder of the tax proceeds to local regions in the state to be used for promotional programs.
This year the council heard requests for a total of nearly $3.2 million and awarded grants totaling just over $2,594,000. This year's grants ranged in size from nearly $600,000 for the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau to $1,000 for the Greater Kooskia Chamber of Commerce.
Representatives serving on the Idaho Travel Council include: Nancy DiGiammarco, chair, Silverwood Theme Park, Athol; John Webster, vice chair, Best Western Burley Inn, Burley; Marty Smith, Three Rivers Rafting, Kooskia; Mike Shirley, Bogus Basin Resort, Boise; Louise Mahoney, Pocatello Super 8, Pocatello; Tadd Jenkins, Bish's RV, Idaho Falls; Brent Gillette, Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley; and Bill Reagan, Coeur d_Alene Resort, Coeur d_Alene.
In 2004, the council awarded approximately $2.4 million in grants.