Parkersburg CVB seeing bright days

PARKERSBURG – Last year was a good year for the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

During the bureau’s annual meeting Thursday at the Parkersburg Art Center, Mark Lewis, president and CEO, said the bureau is in good shape financially and that will allow the bureau to promote the area more in 2014.

“Due to a significant increase in the hotel motel tax and some spending cuts we have a $63,000 carryover and that will allow us to increase our marketing and advertising budget by $40,000,” he said. “We will keep the rest in the capital fund to pay for maintenance for the building.”

Lewis said the bureau has completed an inventory of sport venues in the county, which will be a tool in attracting events for sports tourism. Nielsen has been engaged to do marketing research for the area, he said, and the bureau’s plans for the future will be based on the study results.

The bureau’s website, www.greaterparkersburg.com, added a link to allow customers to book rooms at local hotels and motels from the site.

“We are not charging for this,” he said. “This will allow them to bypass the online travel agencies and make it easier for them to book rooms here.”

Lewis said the bureau will face challenges this year. The Tourism Matching Advertising Partnership Program will not be available to help with advertising costs, he said.

It is a reimbursable partnership program providing matching funds for advertising projects.

Lewis said the fund was funded with money from the video lottery proceeds at race tracks and casinos, but competition from neighboring states has reduced the amount collected. The state also uses the fund for the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol on major highways.

“With the competition from states around us the fund is drying up,” he said. “The numbers I’ve seen show there will be nothing available for fiscal 2015.”

Another challenge is the recent chemical spill that contaminated water for Charleston and nine surrounding counties.

“We are expecting fallout from the spill in Charleston and we are looking for ways to mitigate the problem,” he said. “The problem was in Charleston but it is not being reported in the national press as affecting Charleston but all of West Virginia.”

Lewis addressed the issue about a baseball team coming to Parkersburg. He said he was among the group that traveled to Washington, Pa., to observe the operation there. He said he learned the success has been built on offering more than baseball games.

“It will not be 50 days of baseball, but 50 days of baseball and added events, like concerts and other events.”

Lewis announced the 2014 visitors guide is now available. The guide has 72 full color pages and has information about Parkersburg and surrounding areas.

The guide was designed by Stonewall Group, printed by Chapman Printing and images on the cover and inside were taken by area photographer Jim Osborn.

Announced at the meeting were the 2014 board of directors and officers. Lewis said the officers will be chairman, Alan Hardway of MPH Hotels; vice chairman, Blair Couch, Wood County Commission; secretary, Cal Malcom of C.R. Malcom and Associates; treasurer, Pam Helman of Holiday Inn Express and Suites; past chairman, Ed Hoffman of Ogden Directories, retired.

Directors for 2014 will be Matt Baker, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park; Mike Day, Comfort Inn; Rickie Yeager, City of Parkersburg, city appointment; Belinda Glodowski, Wingate by Wyndham; Patsy Hardy, S and P Harley-Davidson and Wood County appointment; Jim Miracle, Carlin’s Battery D and City of Vienna appointment; Deborah Shaffer, Julia-Ann Square Historical Association; Jason Sands, Valley Gem Sternwheeler; E.K. Sleeth, Williamstown Bank and City of Williamstown appointment, and Kristi Steed, North Bend State Park.