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County tourism budget nearly doubles

September 23, 2000

County tourism budget nearly doubles



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The annual budget for the Washington County tourism office has almost doubled since 1997 due to new money from sources such as advertising and membership dues as well as increased tax revenue.

According to figures provided by county Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ben Hart, the organization's annual budget this year is $818,000, up from $427,000 in 1997.

Of the roughly $391,000 increase since 1997, about $88,000 comes from additional hotel-motel tax revenue. The Convention and Visitors Bureau received 95 percent of the county's 3 percent hotel-motel room tax until July 1, when the tax went to 6 percent.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau now receives 45 percent of the room tax proceeds. Hart said the hotel tax brought in about $426,000 in 1997 and roughly $514,000 this year.

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Hart said that, compared to 1997, the CVB receives about $30,000 more in state grants. Revenue from selling ads in the CVB visitors guide has increased about $66,000, and the bureau takes in about $30,000 more in membership dues.

Hart said spending from the $818,000 year 2000 budget included:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $243,000, or just under 30 percent, for wages and benefits.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $91,000, or about 11 percent, for rent, telephone service and other general office expenses.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $159,720, or 19.5 percent, for advertising.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $106,480, or 13 percent, to cover the cost of in-house publications.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $58,080, or 7.1 percent, for sales, which includes the cost of travel to and registration for conferences.

On Tuesday, Hart also unveiled pictures likely to be used in a new $125,000 print advertising campaign he expects to launch in December. The ad campaign will feature drawings of Washington County attractions such as City Park, Antietam Battlefield and The Maryland Theatre under the words, "So much to do, it's historical."

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