Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 15, 2013

Two W.Va. college students creating McDowell CVB

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Tourism in McDowell County may soon get a boost through the creation of a county Conventions and Visitor’s Bureau.

Tiffany Clemins, a junior at Marshall University, and Sarah Miller, a senior at West Virginia University, have been working to help the county establish a McDowell CVB as part of their summer internship with the McDowell County Economic Development Authority.

“The idea was presented to us and we thought this was something that could make the county better,” Clemins said. “We did a lot of research on all of the hotels and found there are 12 that meet the definition by state code. We got to know the people who run these facilities as well.”

Cathy Patton, a spokesperson for the McDowell County Commission, said the county commission has already had the first of two necessary readings of the ordinance to establish a hotel-motel tax and CVB. Patton said the commission will host a second reading at their next meeting and then have up to 10 days to vote on establishing the CVB.

“The commission feels this has good potential for revenue and all of the revenue it will generate will come from outside the county,” Patton said. “Under state, the CVB would be funded through a 6 percent tax lodgers would pay on their bills at local hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. The CVB will receive 50 percent of that tax revenue while the county or town will receive the other 50 percent, which has to be used on certain tourism related things in the county. The tax will help keep the CVB running. It will be really beneficial for the county.”

Clemins said an estimated 13,500 tourists come to McDowell County each year and have the potential to generate between $50,000 and $500,000 in income through the hotel motel tax.

“By establishing a convention and visitors bureau, the county would have more opportunity to reach out to tourists,” Clemins said. “Parts of the tax that don’t go to the CVB will provide for more growth for tourism-based businesses and help with beautification projects in the county. It would make McDowell County more available to visitors. The funds can also benefit the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, which is where a lot of these hotels are located. The CVB would promote local businesses to show tourists coming into the community what we have to offer.”

Clemins said the business owners they spoke with were eager to get the word out about tourism opportunities in McDowell County.

“Everyone thought it was a great idea and they were on board with it,” Clemins said. “We don’t have anyone advertising for us, so we are basically off the map to most tourists. We need to get out there that there are things to do here and promote ourselves instead of just relying on word of mouth.”

Patton said McDowell County has 12 hotels including the Ashland Resort in Ashland, Big Four Motel in Big Four, Count Gilu Motel in Welch, Elkhorn Inn and Theater in Landgraff, the Fair Haven Ranch on Burke Mountain near Keystone, the Huckleberry Trails Inn in Powhatan, Sam’s Guest House in Northfork, Wild Willy’s ATV Rezort outside Northfork as well as the Me and Mr. Jones Bed and Breakfast and PowerHouse ATV Lodge both in Maybeury.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com