Tourism group going hands-on

It’s going to be a more hands-on, focused approach for a Pauls Valley advisory board working to create a better defined overall tourism strategy.

At times the discussion went into the “dream big” range as all five members of the PV Tourism Board recently gathered to begin what looks to be an ongoing look at how to not only grow events but help local tourism related facilities.

“We need to start talking about what is tourism; what is it that we do,” said Randy McGee.

“We have for years been funding activities. I think we need to add infrastructure to that. What infrastructure do we have that is tourist friendly.

“We’ve got to get back to using tourism as it was intended. We need to get back to tourist ready and grant ready.”

One thing the board is hoping to do is start working on creating a budget to allocate tourism funds from a local hotel-motel sales tax for defined categories of tourism related activities, such as arts and cultural, and even the infrastructure of facilities that bring visitors into Pauls Valley.

The group agreed it’s important to revamp and tighten up the application process for groups that submit funding requests.

New board member Amy Richey said a part of that should be to require applications come in much sooner than in the past.

“We’ll have new events and repeat events and different stipulations for each,” she said.

“I don’t want to have to make a decision in that same meeting. The last few meetings I didn’t feel I had any choice in the decision because of the timing.

“We’re trying to proactive and not reactive.”

That means groups will need to show up an extra meeting or two in advance to give a presentation on their activities before a funding decision needs to be made.

Another suggestion is for the board to begin rating the success of an event after it’s over as a way to avoid “buyers remorse” as some events funded in the past were nice community events but didn’t really meet the parameters of tourism.

“When (groups) give a post-event report as a board we need to rate it right then,” McGee said.

“We’ve got a group of volunteers who just want to do something good for Pauls Valley. Hopefully we can make that a better deal,” he said about the many individuals who in recent years have come forward to address the board about funding a local event.

Jesse Alvarado says he thinks specific criteria is needed to judge the success of events receiving tourism funding.

Even more specific is a suggestion coming from Terri Matthews.

“I think the two biggest projects ready to go are the arts council building and the ball field,” he said.

The reference is to the PV Arts and Cultural Center, which is still needing an elevator and second floor renovation, and the Pauls Valley Sports Complex, which is a group of soccer and little league fields on the west side of town.

“I think we should take that project on,” Matthews said, adding he believes it might be a good idea to partner up with the local chamber of commerce.

“Tourism wants to get into the tournament business,” McGee said, referring to organized tournaments for youth baseball, softball, soccer and even fishing.

Alvarado added he believes a couple of “critical” things are a marketing strategy and a “vibrant” website helping to promote events in PV.

With the tourism sales tax generating up to $500,000 a year, the board is now now considering two meetings each month – one for funding requests and the other for tourism related talks.

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