Unified approach is the best

Unified approach is the best

The local hotel/motel business must be pretty good.

In July 2011, because of budget concerns, Mayor Laurel Prussing pulled Urbana out of the Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The decision saved the city $72,000, money the mayor contended would be better spent elsewhere. In the face of concerns that withdrawing from the convention and visitors bureau would reduce hotel/motel use in the city, she said Urbana would pursue its own efforts to attract visitors to the community.

Now Prussing is characterizing her decision as the correct one, citing an increase in hotel/motel taxes as evidence. Not only, she said, did Urbana not suffer financially as a result of dropping out of the convention and visitors bureau, but hotel/motel owners in Urbana also did not suffer from a subsequent decision to increase the hotel/motel tax from 5 percent to 6 percent.

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, Urbana collected $651,498 in hotel/motel taxes. The 2012-13 tax receipts for Urbana jumped to $835,598, a 35 percent increase.

Champaign collected $1,471,788 in hotel/motel taxes for 2011-2012 and $1,613,279 for 2012-13, a 9.6 percent growth rate.

It's great that Urbana's hotel/motel taxes are doing well. But that doesn't necessarily demonstrate that Urbana's withdrawal from the convention and visitors bureau was a good decision. At the most, one could say that the city's decision was not as harmful to Urbana as some people feared it might be.

Collaborative efforts involving numerous partners, like those in the convention and visitors bureau, are superior to individual efforts by individual communities. The efficiencies, assuming the organization is well-run, are simply undeniable as they relate to the common good.

Prussing made her decision about withdrawal because of budget constraints, and her decision is understandable. After all, her first allegiance is to Urbana.

But budget issues aside, the entire community will be best served when there is a single effort devoted to attracting visitors rather than the current division of labor.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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wayward wrote on January 14, 2013 at 10:01 am

The efficiencies, assuming the organization is well-run, are simply undeniable as they relate to the common good.

  I think "assuming the organization is well-run" was the key issue in this situation.

rsp wrote on January 14, 2013 at 10:01 am

Yeah, I've still not seen anything they do. Well, except get talked about in the paper.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

"Ski Illinois!!!!"  Really.... a tourist bureau for C-U?  A website would be sufficient without all of the additional costs.

ZFox83 wrote on January 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm

The previous commentors do not realize what the CVB (Convention and Visitor's Bureau) truly does.  This is much more than handing out flyers saying "Come Visit C-U!".  The CVB makes bids on events to try and get organizations to host their functions in C-U, thereby bringing increased revenue to our hotels, restauants, attractions, retail outlets, etc.  Recently, it has been because of the CVB that we've acquired the Hot Rod Power Tour event at Assembly Hall last year, and will be the host of the Bloomington Gold corvette show for the next five years.  I won't quote exact numbers, but this event is expected to attract 2000+ corvettes to C-U.  Each of those cars likely comes with more than just one person...often families will travel to these shows.  The economic impact on our area is going to be significant.  The CVB also makes major strides in AgriTourism, when farm and agriculture industry reps rent busses and come through the area.  These executives want to be entertained as well, and the CVB helps coordinate their trips to be sure C-U is one of their stops.  Our CVB has won awards for excellence in AgriTourism in recent years. 

This organization is making great strides to get our area on the map.  But even if all they did was get people to stop in for lunch off of 57 and support local business in our area, that too would be a worthwhile cause, don't you think?