Your recent article about the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce's proposed tourism room tax contained some misleading information. The maximum amount the Missouri Division of Tourism will provide is $10,600; to receive that amount, the chamber must spend a total of $21,200, before June 30th, on specific items in an approved tourism marketing project.
The Chamber's request for July 1997- June 1998 includes $12,500 for 15,000 copies of a full-color brochure (that's .83 each), $2,500 for 8000 parchment copies of the Old Drum speech (that's .31 each), $4,000 for a direct mail campaign to Omaha, Springfield, K.C. & St. Louis, $2000 for newspaper ads and $200 for Amtrak fares to tell school kids about Old Drum. Most of these items were included in the 1997 project, but only the full-color brochure was printed, by a Kansas printer, at a cost of $9755.; the only Warrensburg firm solicited was Pack N Mail, owned by the Chamber Director's husband.
The 1998 advertising program is to feature Whiteman's B-2 bomber and air show, CMSU sports and cultural activities, and local festivals including the KOKO Expo, Fall Festival, the Main Street Art Festival, the courthouse centennial (now complete), the now-defunct Old Drum Days festival and Midwest Goat Producers' convention. County Fairgrounds activities are not included.
If the Chamber is counting on receiving any money in 1999, I would hope that they've done a better job on the application submitted last month. The program will be highly competitive, with applications exceeding available money by over $300,000. Applications request a detailed marketing plan such as a small business would provide a lender; the Chamber's plan has been a simple statement of objectives. Past applications have been similarly sketchy.
Perhaps the Chamber's difficulty is that it dissipated its professional tourism resources when it disbanded its Tourism Committee back in 1993 or 1994. Tourism professionals would certainly question spending $1.47 in postage to send a package that included the $.83 4-color self-mailer brochure, along with poor copies of irrelevant information such as employers, utilities, real estate agencies, etc. - and an offer to send more information for $5!
Tourism promotion, done right, can be a strong economic boost to our area. To effectively use the money they hope to collect under the tourism tax, the Chamber and the City need to develop a much clearer vision of their tourism objectives than has been demonstrated in the past. The public deserves to see a full and comprehensive tourism plan prior to the April 3rd vote.
For further discussion of tourism related issues, see my website at http://www.cedarcroft.com/tourtax