County tourism board OKs incentive program
By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Trumbull County's tourism board on Tuesday approved a marketing program with the Western Reserve Port Authority, Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and Pan Am Clipper Connection.
The Trumbull County Tourism and Information Center and the Youngstown/Mahoning County Convention and Visitors' Bureau each will contribute $3,900 toward the marketing of "Valu Paks" that provide incentives to people flying to and from the airport with Pan Am.
The Youngstown/Mahoning board approved the program last week.
The funding request was made by letter from the port authority, which runs the airport, to Trumbull commissioners and the tourism agencies in both counties.
The Valu Paks include discounts from destination hotels, restaurants and attractions, and will be valued between $700 and $1,500.
"They want the Valu Pak to outweigh the price of the ticket," said Billie Jo Zimmerman, director of the Youngstown/Mahoning County Visitors Bureau and interim director of the Trumbull County Tourism Board and Information Center.
"We are committed to providing Valu Paks to each passenger flying out of Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and traveling to Orlando and Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fla.; San Juan and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Boston; and Newburgh, New York," the letter said.
"We will also publish a Valu Pak for our area to provide travelers coming to this area via Pan Am a competitive value and tying in our two convention bureaus."
Zimmerman will represent Trumbull and Mahoning counties to visitors' bureaus at each destination. The $7,800 from the bureaus will cover her travel and other expenses.
The board also approved funding the PONY National Softball Tournament for 2006 at the same level as this year, $25,000.
Zimmerman said hotels are filled for the current tournament this week in a four-county area, restaurants are getting business and people are shopping. A study is being done to determine the economic impact from the counties' lodging tax, she said.
"It's good for the area, it's good for business and it's good for people who like softball," said Commissioner Daniel E. Polivka, also Trumbull's tourism board chairman.
The board approved the immediate repair of the rear entrance to the information center building at 2931 Youngstown Road. The overhang is a safety concern because water from the air conditioner is dripping on it, Polivka said.
"A big heavy wind might take it down; it's pretty rotten and maintenance was up there and suggested taking it down," he said.
The board also approved obtaining price quotes to purchase information kiosks for at least four locations coming into the county.