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Tourism plans re-invent wheel

Re-inventing the tourism wheel rears its ugly head again.

Between Mr. Lamerson, Mr. Cohen, the Prescott Downtown Association, the Prescott Downtown Partnership (which is doing its job), the Prescott Area Coalition for Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce (which receives no financial aid from the city and raises its own operating money), the right hand has never agreed with what the left hand is doing.

Even Richard Sims and Arnold Grey, who have lobbied the City Council for their "tourism in a garage program" seem to have forgotten their active involvement with their Chamber of Commerce tourism program.

Let's get some facts straight.

First, it was all of the above entities who fought so strenuously to remove the very successful Prescott Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (the Chamber of Commerce's original concept and "baby") from the arena.

For many unfathomable reasons, they all wanted the downtown businesses to "run" with the bed tax advertising money. The easiest way to do this was to band together to relieve the PACVB of the Chamber's financial support in operating money. Now these very people and organizations are at war with each other and the battle goes on.

Second, the PDP and Chamber of Commerce hastily "threw" together PACT to present the Prescott City Council with a package which did not include a viable budget or any of the specifics that the PACVB already was performing. Mr. Lamerson was one of the biggest proponents of this package and now proposes that the city take over tourism! Just which side of the fence is he on?

While I agree that the "tourism center" does not belong in a garage, I do question Mr. Lamerson's thinking that the city should take over Prescott's tourism promotion. Does he really believe that the city's current staff is trained for this responsibility? Would he agree to the city hiring qualified people for the job? And where would the city get the money for the new department? Certainly not from the bed tax allocation for tourism because the city forbids using this money for "operating funds".

Third, and speaking of operating funds, PACT received the bed tax tourism funds with a $60,000-plus-per-year amount and, at that time, a loss of $125,000-plus in Arizona Office of Tourism matching grant money. They offered the city a sketchy, if not questionable, budget which the City Economic Development Department and the City Council fell for. The city never questioned just where the operating funds were going to come from. Remember, folks, the portion of bed tax money allocated by the city can go only to actual advertising and not for operations.

So, just where is PACT getting its operating money, including the highly-salaried director? The City Council must make sure there are no compromises on the bed tax so that the administering organization can legally receive the full matching grant from the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Fourth, as for Mr. Cohen's ridiculous statement about the "Vicky & The Cowboy" ad campaign, I suggest he should have done some homework.

This ad campaign the former PACVB produced was the most successful ad campaign in the history of developed tourism in Prescott. What really occurred is this: The ads were geared (and logically so) to prospective tourists out of the tri-cities area. The ads were so successful that hundreds of tourists who saw the ads inundated the downtown merchants and inquired "where are Vicky and the Cowboy?"

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Mr. Cohen is spouting sour grapes.

So, maybe, you people who are all intermingled members of the above mentioned groups, including the city with its liaisons, should band together and form a new group with an overpaid director and a board made up mostly of people who will show up only rarely at Chamber of Commerce functions.

But then, you already have a group such as that, don't you, and you still did not succeed in re-inventing the wheel.

(Jacky Breitenbach is past president of the Prescott Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, a former Chamber of Commerce volunteer and an arts and crafts show coordinator.)

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