More tourists were drawn to Crawford County in 2005, according to hotel and motel tax receipts and requests for information from travelers.

Statistics show the 2005 county bed tax total was $194,346.89 — an increase of 15 percent over the 2004 total of $168,424.53.

During the past four years, Crawford County hotel and motel patrons have paid more than $700,000 in bed tax, which funds efforts to promote local tourism.

“It’s working,” said Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Juanita Hampton, pointing to the increase as proof that the tax-funded marketing efforts are bringing more people to the county. Further proof lies in the fact that there has been an increase in the number of businesses collecting the tax — there’s a new Comfort Inn and the recently reopened Caboose Hotel.

Under the tax, every time a room is rented at a motel, hotel, bed and breakfast or other facility that rents rooms to the public, a 3 percent tax is added to the cost of the room rate.

The tax collections showed July is the most popular month with receipts of $29,213.23, followed by August and June.

Hampton cited a list of accomplishments achieved by the bureau with the money received, which includes not only adding two full-time employees to the staff, but paying for multiple numbers of brochures, folders, guides and other publications.

In addition, dozens of advertising projects were funded over the past several years — all designed to bring tourists to Crawford County and northwestern Pennsylvania.

An internal matching fund program for bureau members was added in 2004 with matching grants available to members for various marketing projects. Grants for the past two years ranged from $500 to $2,500, based on the application.

In addition, the Sertoma Club was awarded $2,500 each year to help with costs of bringing more ball tournaments to the area.

Hampton said the work is paying off with state and national recognition. For example, the Pymatuning Spillway was featured in the March 2004 edition of Good Housekeeping magazine. In February of last year, the state filmed two commercials in Crawford County.

The bureau also will receive a $10,000 grant for the Underground Railroad featuring driving tours, including Crawford, Erie, Warren, Venango, Mercer and Lawrence counties.

The bureau also conducted a survey of 1,100 visitors to the area, asking about their experiences while here.

“Almost 40 percent of the visitors responded that they spent between $100 and $600 while in Crawford County,” Hampton said in the executive summary of the survey. “Comments made by the visitors were overwhelmingly positive and included constructive criticisms of various locations or just general comments on how improvements could be made to certain aspects of their stay.”



Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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