Volume 104, Number 30 - July 26, 2007
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Tourism Board adopts new budget
The Sublette County Joint Tourism Board (JTPB) heard enlightening opinions from the few citizens who turned up at the public commentary session of the board’s annual budget meeting, held on Tuesday night in the Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce. Board members first walked through the 2007-08 budget of $339,750, dispersed between covering administrative and contractual costs like accounting and travel expenses, developing the new town Web site, and funding grants and promotional activities. Chairman John Godfrey said he hopes the Web site will garner more overnight tourism, as it currently lures 589 hits a day, which probably translates into five people a day deciding to visit Pinedale.
Godfrey also said advertising this next year will focus on the winter and shoulder months, when more hotel rooms are available. But Sofia and Forest Wakefield, owners of the Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale who attended the meeting, spoke against that decision. “People who know about Pinedale and all it has to offer in the summer go to the effort of making reservations weeks in advance,” Sofia said, presenting a sheet of figures that showed 68 percent of the Cabin’s guests this July were tourists. “People who don’t know just drive through at 7 p.m., stay the night with no interest in spending money here, and wake up at 7 a.m. to go to Jackson.”
If the tourism board advertised more for summer months, people would make reservations early on, Sofia said, and out-of-town contractors for community projects like the new aquatic center and middle school expansion would have reason to stay longer. Mindi Crabb, Tourism Marketing Director for the board, said the JTPB splits the two seasons “50-50” in magazine and television advertising, but she was surprised to hear that the Cabin had more than half of its rooms open for August.
“No one else is giving me these numbers,” Crabb said, adding that improved communication between local hotels and the board could quickly fill rooms. Members agreed that with Web site expansion, they would also create an online message board where local hotels could post their vacancies, so hotel owners as well as the Visitor Center staff could tell tourists immediately where to spend the night. “The lodging industry, which we in fact serve, has had a very quiet voice,” Godfrey said.
The grant hearing following the public commentary session included two grant requests previously submitted to the board.
Members approved a request from the Sexual Assault and Family Violence task force (SAFV) for $1,500 to fund advertising for the organization’s Art Auction, and also approved a request from the Pinedale Cowboy Round-Up for $1,500 to fund advertising for a Cowboy Poetry and Music event. Although members Steve Hirth and Mary Thompson were absent at the meeting, board members also voted for officers, and decided to elect Greg Ptasnik, previously the interim treasurer and vice-chair, as treasurer. Members voted to make Mary Thompson vicechair, and allowed Godfrey to remain chairman and Hirth to keep the secretary position. “We’ve got a very strong board, in that they’re willing to learn from anyone willing to come talk to us,” Crabb said after the meeting.
Having members who are part of the lodging industry like Ptasnik, owner of Lakeside Lodge, helps the board understand a key part of the community’s tourism, Crabb added, particularly when people like the Log Cabin owners volunteer information. “They provided some great insight and feedback on how things are going in the lodging community, which was very exciting,” she said. “We don’t get a lot of people who come talk to us, so that was good.”
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