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2013-08-29

CVB - bringing tourism $$$ to Bandera

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Patricia Moore, executive director of the Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked commissioners to renew a contract that would enable the CVB to receive funds from the county's hotel occupancy tax. HOT funds in fiscal year 2013-2014 are projected to total $357,000.
As Moore explained on Thursday, August 22, if lodgings in the county cost $100 per night, tourists would pay $112, with a portion of the $12 tax relegated to the state and the rest to the county. In the city, a $100 a night room, actually costs $115 with $3 eventually making its way back to city coffers. The CVB is funded entirely with the county's HOT fund; no local taxpayer dollars are involved.
Emphasizing the impact of tourism in Bandera County, Moore said in calendar year 2012, visitors generated $31,500,000 in direct travel spending and $731,400 in local tax revenues. Additionally, 1,224 people were employed in the tourism business, according to studies prepared by Dean Runyon for the Office of the Governor's Economic Development Tourism Division.
"Approximately 15 percent of all those employed in Bandera County work in the tourism industry and 9.6 percent of all earnings - $19 million - are generated by tourism," Moore said. She added that statistics are much lower in surrounding comparable counties.
Local events funded, in part, by the CVB included: Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association, $3,500; Bandera County Chamber of Commerce Hunters Barbecue & Outdoor Expo, $3,000; Medina Lake Betterment Association Cajun Fest, $3,000; Bandera Business Association RiverFest, $3,000; Bandera County Public Library Wild Hog Explosion, $3,000; Bandera Community Foundation Celebrate Bandera, $3,500; Bandera County Historical Commission, $1,000; Frontier Times Museum National Day of the American Cowboy, $3,000; Bandera Community Foundation Bandera Posse Parade Participation, $2,500; and Bandera Business Association Trail of Lights Holiday promotion, $600.
For fiscal year 2013-2014, the CVB's total budgeted revenue would be $446,125 with administrative costs estimated to be $196,885 or 44.13 percent of the total; special advertising costs, $26,100 or 5.85 percent of the total budget; and advertising, promotion and sales, $209,000 or 46.85 percent, leaving an expenditure override of $14,140.
Moore said that by spending cautiously and "keeping Bandera's name out there," she did not anticipate the overage would occur. "The budget is extremely conservative," she said. "We expect HOT fees to increase only by $5,000."
According to Moore, since the CVB does not expect a major increase in revenue next year, projections basically remained the same as those for last year. The exception was a modest $3,000 increase in HOT collections for October, November and December of 2013. Historical data indicated that period of collections had risen steadily over the several years.
The CVB utilizes two full-time and two part-time employees and one volunteer. Salaries did not increase, but a third part-time employee will be hired this coming year. Salaries amount to a total of $145,754.
Outlining the CVB's marketing strategy, Moore said that 1,900 individuals receive a monthly email newsletter and a weekly calendar of events. Not only does the CVB post several times a week on Facebook, but it also maintains two websites, www.banderacowboycapital.com and www.bandercowboycapital.mobi.
Most print advertising takes place in magazines with an affluent readership, such as Texas Monthly and Texas Highways, Southern Living, Austin Monthly, True West, Texas Parks & Wildlife and on occasion, San Antonio Magazine.
Additionally, the CVB participates in fall and spring tabloid supplements, "See Texas First," which is distributed in over 1 million newspapers across the state. "The spring leads alone for this year are over 5,600," Mooore said.
Also helping boost Bandera's brand across the nation was the recent award in Texas Highways, naming Bandera as one of the top eight "coolest small towns" in Texas and CNN's March article naming Bandera as one of the top six places to be a cowboy in the United States.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes commended Moore for her continued hard work, saying, "People staying overnight in Bandera benefit other business. Spending generates a huge interconnected circle of money."
Mindful that even more spending could occur with judicious planning, Evans asked Moore, "Is the CVB actively trying to facilitate the building of the new hotel? Is it taking up the slack?" He referred to a perceived lack of activity on the potential money-maker since June 12, when the now-defunct City of Bandera Board of Adjustments requested that the hotel development team withdraw their request for a variance on a proposed off-premises sign on the property at the 700 block of Main Street.

"I'm monitoring (the situation) and have met with Gene Hartman," Moore answered diplomatically.