GC travel takes back seat due to fuel prices

After bringing in a record number of visitors to the area in 2007, the Grove City Area Visitors and Convention Bureau has a bleak outlook for this year.

David Bright was representing the GCVCB trustees when he addressed Grove City Council on March 17 and said the organization will have to struggle through 2008.

"We are anticipating many challenges due to the rising price of gasoline," said Bright. "If gas prices reach $4 per gallon, there will be a serious slow down in travel."

Bright also said the record-high fuel prices will affect business travel.

"This is a big concern because business travel brings a lot of dollars into the city," he noted.

Bright told council members that the bureau has revised their 2008 budget and increased it to approximately $209,000.

"We have stretched our dollars through and through," he remarked.

The GCVCB is not supported by tax dollars; instead they receive 25 percent of the city’s bed tax. The city then gets a portion of the funds. Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage explained that the money the city gets from the bureau goes toward city events that attract visitors, such as the balloon and art festivals.

In an effort to remain competitive and utilize dollars, the bureau has launched an aggressive Internet campaign.

"Franklin County gets $5.3 billion each year from tourists," said Bright. "It is our goal to bring a lot of that to Grove City."

He explained that their Web site has received millions of hits. The bureau has also started a new planning and marketing committee that aims to promote Grove City throughout Ohio and surrounding states. In addition, a strategic planning committee is looking into long-range plans.

Last year, Grove City saw record-breaking income from travel.

"Last year was a phenomenal year," said Bright. "The businesses on Stringtown Road have made the area a much more desirable location."

Jim Hale, director of the visitors bureau explained that last year the city received a lot of tourism from events at Berliner Park.

"If you look up Berliner Park on the Internet, you’ll find a link to our Web site," said Hale. "There are many events there that attract people from all over and we’re close enough for them to stay."

Hale also said the city got tourism dollars from events like the Arnold Classic and events at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

"We have one of the best intersections for access," said Hale. "It is easy to get into and out of Grove City."

Despite the uncertain market for 2008, Bright said the bureau will maintain their effort to bring people in. Stage explained that the city administration is looking into ways to utilize dollars to further merchandise the city, which should boost tourism.

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