New tourism advisory board approved by city commissioners

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tourism Manager Larry Gazaway appeared before Fort Scott City Commissioners Tuesday with requests for approval to form a new city tourism advisory board.

Commissioners approved separate motions for an ordinance establishing a tourism advisory board and listing the members of the panel.

Gazaway said the new advisory board will replace the transient guest tax (TGT) committee, a 12-member board made up of people in the lodging industry that is disbanding. Gazaway said he uses money from the transient guest tax, which is a sales tax tourists pay when staying at local lodging establishments, as the basis for his budget.

“I plan to use that money to get people here,” he said.

According to the ordinance, the new board will consist of a minimum of five and maximum of nine members who are representatives of the lodging and hospitality market, restaurants, tourist attractions, one at-large member, one ex-officio member from a tourist attraction in the county, one member representing the chamber of commerce, and Gazaway.

Terms for the members shall be three years with no member serving more than two consecutive terms. Expiration dates of terms will be staggered so three members’ terms of office shall expire during the same year and the remaining members’ terms will expire the following year.

Board members will serve without pay and will meet quarterly as well as at the request of the mayor or city manager, or at the request of a majority of its members, the ordinance states.

The purpose of the board is to recommend and make suggestions to the city manager and commissioners regarding tourism, events, grants and advertising concerning the marketing of Fort Scott by the tourism office, the ordinance states.

Gazaway, who was named as the new tourism manager in April, said some of his short-term goals include coming up with a “brand or theme” for Fort Scott, building a marketing website and attracting conferences and conventions to town.

Gazaway said the recent transition to bring tourism under the direction of the city from the chamber has been “smooth.”

City Manager Dave Martin said some retailers have told him there is not enough being done to promote shopping in the area.

“Larry’s done a great job so far on removing barriers,” Martin said.

The decision to appoint a tourism manager for the city came about after commissioners in February approved a recommendation from Commissioner Jim Adams to have city staff research an idea to bring tourism from under the direction of the chamber to the supervision of the city.

Several residents, including businesspeople, representatives of the chamber and others provided feedback on the issue at the commission’s March 7 meeting. Many comments centered around support of moving tourism to the city, which created the full-time tourism manager position.

Discussion also took place on the use of the TGT, which is collected through the state and must be spent on tourism.

Gazaway’s position is funded through the TGT, of which funds were released back to the city after approval to move tourism back under city direction.