Friday, August 9, 2013

State doles out tourism grants

Sun Valley Marketing Alliance gets $222K

Express Staff Writer

    The Idaho Travel Council awarded tourism grants totaling more than $3.3 million at a conference Monday in Sun Valley. Local organizations including the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance were among the beneficiaries.
    Heather Deckard, marketing director of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, said she was happy to see her department receive $29,040 (a record grant for the Hailey organization).
    “I was not surprised by how much we were awarded. It was definitely warranted, as we’ve shown a great effort to increase our regional marketing,” Deckard said.
    According to Deckard, three years ago the largest grant awarded to Hailey totaled $11,000. The chamber requested $48,785, which Deckard said would have been a “dream budget.” She said the amount of money awarded to the department has increased over the past three years, a trend she hopes to see continue.
    “Increased funding from the Idaho Travel Council shows they support what we’re doing,” she said. “I think the increased funding is definitely a trend that will continue.”
    The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance also received about half of what it requested. After receiving $215,600 from the Idaho Travel Council last year, the organization was given a grant totaling $222,400. It requested $416,500.
    “The money is pretty close to what we expected,” said Marketing Alliance President Arlene Schieven. “We expected a slight increase since our taxes back to the state increased this year.”
    Much like the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, the Marketing Alliance hopes an increased budget can produce improved marketing results.
     “We want to grow our budget,” Schieven said. “As we see results increase, we will have more options to grow our marketing.”
    Two other regional organizations received grants from the council. The Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce received $37,950 after asking for $48,675. The Region 7 division of the Idaho Ski Areas Association received $12,000 after seeking $12,994.
    The grants are funded by a 2 percent tax, paid by travelers and collected by the state’s hotel, motel and private campground owners. Forty-five percent of the funds are used for statewide programs targeted to international and domestic consumers, tour operators, travel agents, travel journalists and film industry marketing. Another forty-five percent is distributed back to communities through the grant program. The remaining 10 percent is used for administration of the state’s tourism office.
    Total lodging tax collections for fiscal year 2013 were $7,488,050.

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