When I travel throughout Ashtabula County and northern Trumbull County, I think of the many reasons someone who is not from our area would like to come and see what we have to offer. For instance, some people might visit our wineries, others have an interest in visiting our beautiful covered bridges, and still others might come simply to explore the history of our neck of the woods.

Attracting people from outside our borders is very important, and that is why our state must increase its efforts at boosting tourism. House Bill 489, which completes the transition from the Department of Development to the Development Services Agency as a way of revitalizing our economy and creating jobs, would also create the Office of TourismOhio.

It isn’t mentioned often, but tourism is Ohio’s fourth-largest industry. Because of it, there are 439,000 people who have jobs. Also, when we invest in tourism in our state, we see a good return. It brings $2.6 billion into Ohio every year through state and local taxes.

House Bill 489 sets up the TourismOhio Advisory Board to provide guidance and support from industry experts as we set out to promote our state. The office, itself, would be funded through a five-year pilot program that links its funding to growth in sales tax revenue in tourism-related industries. This means that we will be able to market our state through a tourism office that is self-sustainable, saving our state money. If we find it is not worthwhile at the conclusion of the five-year pilot program, we can go in another direction.

I am confident that the Office of TourismOhio will be a success. A recent advertising push put on by the Department of Development brought in $14 in state and local tax revenue for every $1 that was invested in the marketing. Furthermore, Longwoods International recently did research for the Ohio Office of Tourism in which it concluded that $374 million in new visitor spending was generated from an estimated 2.1 million trips that were a result of the office’s 2011 advertising efforts.

If we want to attract more people from neighboring states but they do not know specifically what there is to do in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties, it benefits us simply to get them across the border. If they come to Ohio, we can then find additional ways of attracting them to the smaller destinations in our area once they are here through means such as billboards along the highway or other advertising.

Tourism dollars are very important to our business community, so why not boost the economic activity in our state by promoting our state? The provisions regarding tourism in House Bill 489 will help Ohio grow and become more competitive with other states. It’s time we give this industry the attention that it deserves, and I’m proud of the work that is being put into boosting tourism in Ohio.


VacationInAshCo said...

Tourism is a great industry for the state of Ohio. Tourism is not only a boost to the local economy, it is sustainable and here to stay. The jobs provided can not be outsourced and our product becomes stronger each and every year. Many thanks Rep. Kozlowski for all your work!

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