Sunday, August 10, 2014

OPINION: Visitor's Bureau Holding Bradford County Back

 If you read one of the local newspapers on a semi-daily basis you will by now be aware of the controversy brewing over Bradford County’s “room tax.” Local municipalities have begun voting on whether to continue sending local tax dollars off to the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau in Tunkhannock or to create a new visitor’s bureau for Bradford County. The current Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau serves the four county “Endless Mountains” region comprised of Bradford, Wyoming, Susquehanna and Sullivan counties. Under the current, decade old agreement, revenue from a tax levied on tourists staying in local hotels, the number of which has exploded in recent years due to the Marcellus Shale natural gas play, is shipped off to the EMVB, headquartered in Wyoming County, where the EMVB decides best how to use this money to promote tourism in Bradford County. More than 50% of the EMVB’s budget reportedly comes from Bradford County.

In order to move forward with the resolution currently on the table (the establishment of a new Bradford County visitors bureau), the Bradford County commissioners are waiting on a majority of local municipalities to vote to sever ties with the EMVB. And with good reason, a quick search of the Endless Mountains Visitor’s Bureau website, shows Bradford County’s many attractions to be inadequately represented. For example, using the search feature, filtered to suggest places to eat in Bradford County, yields only six local restaurants.

Notice the Tioga County Visitor's Bureau support
of trail running in their area.
Where this whole issue hits closest to home for those who read is in a search of “things to do.” A search for trails yields just one result, Mt Pisgah State Park. Although Bradford County is footing the bill for this website, there is absolutely no mention of the adjoining Mt Pisgah COUNTY park which most definitely has trails. Similarly, a search for “Parks, Forest and Gamelands,” results only in some limited information about Mt Pisgah State Park and Larnard-Hornbrook County Park. As if it were not bad enough how criminally under developed and underused Bradford County’s forests and game lands already are.

It is this local runner's opinion that the EMVB has to go. Its time for Bradford County's room tax dollars to stay in Bradford County and go toward promoting and making Bradford County’s natural beauty more accessible to all. Promoted properly or not, there is no tourism without tourist attractions. Better cooperation and organization between county, state, and civilian groups have made other nearby counties to our south and west Mecca’s for outdoor enthusiasts. Its time for Bradford County to get its act together while there is still an outdoors worth visiting.


SUGGESTED READING: Local Municipalities Missing The Big Picture (about races)

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