Tourism projects boosted by $100,000

Nearly $100,000 earmarked exclusively for tourism promotion projects were approved Monday by the Board of Island County Commissioners.

The 2008 funds, generated by the county’s 2 percent hotel-motel tax revenues, were doled out based on the potential to promote tourism on Whidbey and Camano islands.

The Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce was awarded $22,500 for tourism marketing and development. The chamber will utilize staff to distribute tourist information, welcome tourists and develop strategies to expand tourism in the area. A secondary visitor information site is one idea that would increase the level of service.

The money will also be used to market special events and festivals, as well as market the chamber itself to attract sports tournaments and mid-sized associations requiring at least one overnight stay.

Tourism promotional materials will be developed to attract visitors to the county and the Oak Harbor area.

The Central Whidbey Island Chamber of Commerce will have $17,500 to use for increasing tourism marketing through brochure development with a consistent off-island distribution plan and ensuring the visitor information center remain open throughout the year, partly through the efforts of a paid volunteer coordinator.

The development of satellite brochure distribution sites is also in the works.

The Freeland Chamber of Commerce was given $15,000 to help the visitor information center keep up with the increasing requests for details about the booming area.

Langley’s visitor information center will also benefit from its $22,500 in funds, as well as the information kiosk the Langley Chamber of Commerce operates jointly with Freeland.

The funds will also go toward placing print ads and brochures, and dissemination of the materials.

The Camano Island Chamber of Commerce was alloted $14,000 to be used for staffing its visitor information center and funding its tourism marketing and fulfillment program.

The remaining funds were given to the NW Tulip Trekkers for the Walking Whidbey Volkfest, the Penn Cove Water Festival Association for marketing, the Coupeville Arts Center for “Shoulder Season” marketing of classes, the Island County Historical Society for rack card development and distribution, and Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens for brochure and rack card development and distribution.

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