Beaufort mayor looks to refocus tourism tax dollars to draw more visitors

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All year round hotels and other Beaufort County visitor accommodations charge an extra 3% in accommodations taxes, money that is in turn given to area non-profits to promote Beaufort as a tourism destination.

Those dollars are first given to area municipalities before being passed onto businesses, and Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling says he wants to better the city's tracking of how effective it's roughly $190,000 share is.

Kicking off an fe-mail blast, Keyserling writes, "Is it possible to leverage $190,000 to Achieve $400,000 for Marketing to Tourists from Outside of the Beaufort Area? YES!"

Keyserling continues to write that his plan will leverage greater transparency to help track how effective those dollars are.

A public meeting will be held when theĀ applications deadline hits on Saturday, January 26, at 10 a.m.

Here's more about his plan:

Sometimes seemingly apparent chaos created while initiating change opens up opportunities for doing things better: In this case I am talking about more efficient ways of investing tourism dollars.

From lessons learned over the past four years, we continue to seek more ways to better invest and leverage your tax dollars. In this case I am talking about the current public give and take about tourism generatedĀ dollars going back into tourism marketing in a way that is different from the past.

On Saturday the City Council and our TDAC committee will host Marketing Summit II (a year ago we had Summit I to gather information from stakeholders and the public) where the TDAC Committee and the City's Designated Marketing Organization (DMO) will present a revised program which we believe can be transformative.

The meeting will be held at 10 am on Saturday at City Hall at 1911 Boundary Street and is of course open to the public.

The goals of the revised program are:

To leverage about $190,000 in accommodations tax dollars to generate as much as $400,000 worth of marketing through collaboration among non- profit organizations and businesses to grow the right kind of tourism that fits Beaufort.

To introduce some common or shared themes that include History & Culture, Outdoor Recreation, Arts & Events and Festivals.

To outline some of the tools now available to measure the success which will bring a new level of accountability to the .investment of your tax dollars?

I know bumps in the road come with change and details will have to be worked out.

I know this is a new way of doing business that some will not like because it is different.

I know some will not be comfortable with our shedding the business as usual approach where year after year the same organizations came to the table requesting support almost like it was an entitlement.

And I know that once in place this program will work.

Most of the organizations that have in the past received grants as well as some who will in the future request financial support will be in the room. We identified every organization we could identify, particularly those who have not participated in the TDAC process before.

If you have expertise in this field, or think you have something to offer, or simply want to learn more, please join us on Saturday morning at City Hall at 10 am for what I hope will be an inspiring meeting as we seek ways to better collaborate to make our hometown even better.

Please note that only 501-c-3 nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive Accommodations Tax Dollars. However this does not mean that businesses cannot collaborate with non-profits with matching dollars to create a more concerted and coordinated effort.

Also note that marketing initiatives paid for through Accommodations Tax Dollars must focus on tourist prospects from outside a fifty mile radius of Beaufort.

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