Archway to bring state tourism personnel together with city, county leaders

Tourism professionals from the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s tourism division will soon travel to Grady County to assist the county and the city of Cairo in a “tourism organization structure evaluation.”
Commissioners decided Tuesday to accept the assistance of state tourism personnel as the county looks for the best ways to market the new 960-acre Tired Creek Lake.
Archway Professional Betsy McGriff has been working with both city and county officials to bring the community and the state tourism experts together. On Tuesday, McGriff explained the benefits of a cooperative effort to county commissioners.
According to McGriff, the state personnel will evaluate how hotel-motel tax proceeds are being spent and share best practices with local officials as well as identify what structure is needed locally to promote tourism.
“It may be a new person, part-time or full-time, or it might be that the chamber could handle it or someone else in the county organization,” the Archway professional said.
McGriff said there is no cost for the evaluation other than for lodging and meals for the state personnel involved in the project.
Commissioners expressed a desire to share in the revenue from the hotel-motel taxes collected here.
Chairman Charles Norton asked McGriff how much the city was collecting annual in hotel-motel tax revenue. The Archway professional said it was her understanding it was between $45,000 and $60,000 annually. Norton asked why the county did not receive a share of the tax and McGriff said that all of the hotel-motels were inside the City of Cairo.
She said that Tired Creek Lake could generate hotel-motel taxes from potential lodging that may develop at the lake or from the rental of overnight spaces for recreational vehicles.
McGriff said there was also a possibility the amount of tax levied locally could be increased.
“I was interested in trying to share the tax rather than increase the tax,” Commissioner T.D. David said Tuesday.
Grady County Lake Authority Chairman Lee Gainous was also present at Tuesday’s meeting and he encouraged the commissioners to support the initiative.
“These folks have offered to help us and I think we ought to ask them to help us,” Chairman Gainous said.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs noted that promoting tourism was not just hotel-motel taxes, but also resulted in additional gas sales, food sales, clothing and other retails sales. “It’s money,” Childs said.
The board authorized $2,500 to cover the expenses of hosting the state tourism officials here to conduct the evaluation.

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