County awards tourism grants for next year

The grants were given to groups that will work to rebuild a tourism economy hurt by the pandemic.

Island County commissioners awarded grants to organizations that will work to rebuild a tourism economy devastated by the pandemic.

Last week, the commissioner unanimously approved 2021 awards from the lodging tax fund totaling $222,000.

The fund comes from a 2 percent tax on stays at hotels and motels and is designated to go to organizations and projects that improve tourism.

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommendations the awards based on requests. The commissioners first considered the recommendations in October and chose to tweak them to provide more money to the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

In the final document, the Oak Harbor chamber received $11,000 from the “OH Mazing Island Escape” promotion. The chamber also receives well over $100,000 in lodging tax funds from the city of Oak Harbor.

The biggest winners in the county grants were the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, which will receive $34,560 for the visitor information center; the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce, which will receive $28,800 for a visitor kiosk and $6,400 for the Great Northwest Glass Quest; and the Langley Chamber of Commerce, which secured $31,500.

The Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley was awarded $8,800 for regional marketing outreach and $1,300 for highway signs advertising the Langley Creative District.

Other awards include the following:

• Island County Historical Museum was awarded $22,500.

• Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum received $15,000.

• Cascade Loop Association received $9,800 for its integrated marketing plan.

• Freeland Chamber of Commerce received $9,250.

• Island Shakespeare Festival was awarded $7,260.

• MusselFest, a Coupeville event, received $7,200.

• Meerkerk Gardens received $6,375 for a marketing plan.

• Clinton Chamber of Commerce received $6,000.

• Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve was awarded $5,500 to operate the Ebey House historic site and the visitor contact station and to produce a historic walking tour brochure and visitor guide newspaper.

• The Pacific Northwest Art School was awarded $4,000.

• Whidbey Island Arts Council received $2,560.

• Penn Cove Water Festival Association received $2,000.

• South Whidbey Historical Society received $2,000 for social media engagement and exhibit expenses.

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