ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers were recently told more needs to be done to promote tourism outside of the Lake Placid area.
At a public hearing on continuing the county’s 3 percent tax on lodging for another three years, several speakers said their towns could use some of the $2 million a year collected by the tax.
“We are the only group in Moriah that has a budget (for tourism promotion),” Moriah Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Bryant said. “Three to four years ago, we had almost 50 percent vacancy in the immediate (Port Henry village) downtown area.
“There are no vacancies now. We do a lot. If we had some funding we could do a lot more.”
He said the group has only a $12,000 annual budget, and they’ve asked the Lake Placid-based Essex County Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) for some funding but got none.
It is ROOST that gets the bed-tax money to spend on marketing Essex County.
Bryant said other entities, among them the Moriah Economic Development Group (EDGE) and the community-beautification group pH7, are promoting the town and village.
“All of us could use a little extra help.”
‘PROMOTE EACH TOWN’
Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) urged Bryant to meet with ROOST President James McKenna to try to work out the issue.
He said some towns are being promoted in a consolidated group by ROOST.
“They (ROOST) do have a process. They’re not just going to give an organization money.”
Bryant said he was asking for money from the occupancy tax for the Moriah Town Council to distribute to the groups.
“The occupancy tax is for the county to promote the county,” he said. “Each town needs to be promoted. There should be some sort of portion for each town.”
Bryant recommended that lawmakers get more involved in the process.