The County Manager has rightly identified the lack of sales tax revenue which has not recovered since 2008. One sector has seen a growth in sales tax revenue every year but one since 2007. That would be the tourism sector of our local economy. Most people I know invest in things that provide a return.
The tourism industry is $20 billion in North Carolina. The County Commissioners are no strangers to budget cutting by the General Assembly in the last few years. One budget they have increased is the Tourism marketing budget. Why is that you might ask. It’s because for every dollar of paid advertising they spend they get back 18 dollars.
We currently have a marketing budget of $35,000 here in this county. We have the sales and marketing talent in this county to wisely spend those dollars. I can document that the county marketing effort works in the few markets we currently seek for the time span we actually do it. I have supplied Mr Sudderth with some of this data. Further I have shown him how his office can document tourist activity through the tourism website via analytics which is free.
On a side note the change in County URL to hangingrock.com has taken the county website to a top one million site in the US. Before private citizens met, studied, and recommended this the site was was not in the top twenty million.
Our marketing budget is not sufficient to get where we need to be. I suggest The Commissioners provide another $75,000.00 to our current marketing budget. A $100,000.00 marketing budget is still not nearly commiserate with our neighboring rural counties but we have to start somewhere. There is a reason Surry County tourism rose 40 percent between 2007 to 2013. We grew 20 percent. It’s Marketing. I consider this addition to the budget to be a loan as I believe the county will get all this money back easily.
At Singletree Gun and Plough we spend significant marketing dollars.
We are involved with approximately 15 other properties, four in the last year spent money to refurbish cabins and farmhouses. Via Singletree marketing efforts we help these families get renters. We are doing more than our share. I am asking the Commissioners for these people and those to follow to help this grass roots tourism effort take a step up.
We are 85th out of 100 counties in tourism revenue. Nobody believes we are 85th in what we have to offer. We are the greatest show on earth people don’t know about. We have the expertise via volunteers who know marketing. We have all the tools. When are we going to take them out of the box?
William K Sparks
Singletree Gun and Plough