Ernest Holmeyer, owner of Mountain Community Vision consulting and Lake Clear Lodge, said Franklin County has the largest segment of high-end vacation rentals in the region and that those sites should be included, even though other counties have a “bungalow tax” but don’t enforce it.
But there were differing ideas on how to identify those temporary-rental places and how to reach those owners and convince them of the benefits of the tourism-marketing initiative.
The committee members discussed formation of the tourism advisory committee appointed by the County Legislature, but they cannot decide if that entity should stand on its own and answer to legislators or be kept under the umbrella of the county’s Industrial Development Agency. That agency also oversees the truncated Tourism Office, which lost half of its funding in the 2012 county budget.
Also discussed was the fact that members of the IDA Board of Directors are also members of the Tourism Board of Directors yet the offices retain separate identities.
Some want to keep bed tax under IDA/Tourism as the pass-through funding agency while others want bed tax as an independent unit from IDA since its mission is supposed to economic development, not promotion and marketing.
There was even the suggestion that the North Country Chamber of Commerce, based in Plattsburgh, be brought in under contract to take over promotion of Franklin County since it has the experience and personnel already in place.
All members admitted they don’t know what promotions or programs are being funded by Franklin County Tourism now or what tourism officials here have planned for 2013.
Holmeyer said tourism is the largest economic-development engine in the county, so there should be direct communication between legislators and those making decisions about tourism, marketing and the bed tax.