Task force is formed to evaluate tourism CARROLL COUNTY FARM/BUSINESS

April 08, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

A group of Carroll businesses, convinced that tourism is vital to the county's economic health, have formed a task force to prove their point.

Thomas McPherson, manager of the Westminster Days Inn, said the group was formed in January when Commissioner Donald I. Dell suggested cutting the Carroll County Office of Tourism out of the county budget.

"He said if he had to choose tourism on the one hand and a pothole on the other, the pothole would get funded," he said. "Our response was that we need tourism in the business community. Without the proper funding and support of the government, we're in trouble."

Tourism supports many businesses in the county besides the restaurants and hotels most people think of, Mr. McPherson said.

For example, a surge in the number of tourists staying at hotels would cause wear on the facilities, prompting the owner to hire local contractors to fix them. Also, restaurants owners must shop at local grocers and food suppliers.

To support their position, the 14-member group, along with statisticians from Western Maryland College, is trying to create a formula to determine what percentage of a company's sales comes from tourists, Mr. McPherson said.

Variables in the formula would include how much money is spent, when it is spent and where the tourists are coming from.

"For us in the hotel business, that's easy to figure out," he said. "For other businesses, such as a bank, it's more difficult to figure out. A bank knows it gets more deposits during a certain time of the year, but can't say exactly how much comes from tourism.

"It's like getting a good meal. You know it's good, but you can't say exactly why." The task force also needs to determine whether tourists in Carroll County visit for just a day or longer, Mr. McPherson said.

"The state defines a tourist as someone who travels 100 miles or greater," he said. "For Carroll County, it could be 30 miles, or 10 miles for that matter."

Members have also distributed a questionnaire to Chamber of Commerce members, asking how their businesses are affected by tourism. The task force will present its findings to the commissioners in late May, Mr. McPherson said.

Other events planned for this summer to show the commissioners how the county benefits from tourism include a trip on the EnterTRAINment line and a "purple tourism dollar" campaign. The dollars, to be distributed with a customer's change, can be used for a discount at participating businesses, he said.

"We not only need economic growth, but we need to plan for it," Mr. McPherson said. The county is growing because its low housing prices and low taxes are attracting people, he said.

The group's next meeting will be next Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Days Inn in Westminster. For more information, call Mr. McPherson at 857-0500 or Frank Kosmakos at 374-4848.

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