The Free Lance-Star: Caroline seeking to boost tourism:
Caroline County expects more than 200,000 tourists will stop by annually once its visitor center opens at Carmel Church this August.
Based on what study?
They’re saying that 547.9 people a day are going to go to the visitors center!
They’re saying that eight times the county’s population will go every year!
How many of these people are just going to go in, go to the bathroom, and leave? How much money is that going to cost? This is going to drive customers away from McDonald’s and Burger King which actually bring money into the county!
So Caroline administrations are preparing by taking applications for the county’s first full-time tourism manager, a position that will probably be filled this month.
“By starting now, they can help get that space in working order so when the public comes they can have a wonderful experience,” said Gary Wilson, Caroline’s economic development director.
Caroline currently has a tourism director, who also manages the county’s tourism Web site. So far, about 65 people have applied for the additional manager position, which will pay between $36,145 and $54,468, plus benefits.
Whoever is hired will not only manage the $2.4 million, 5,000-square-foot center just off Interstate 95, but also help promote such attractions as the State Fair, which opens next year at The Meadow, birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Remember this when the county says they have to borrow money and raise your taxes to pay for a school! They had plenty of money for the visitors center!
There’s some serious money per square footage too:
Visitors Center: $2,400,000 / 5,000 square feet = $480 per square foot
Ladysmith Elementary School: $19,800,000 / 100,000 square feet = $198 per square foot
County Administration Building: $3,700,000 / 18,150 square feet = $204 per square foot
Of course, the county administration building will only hold 20 full-time personnel.
“The State Fair is not just two weeks a year, which is what most people think,” Watson said. “It will be doing fun things all the time.”
Uh…I’m going to assume that’s supposed to be “Wilson”; but I demand a correction nevertheless! :)
Really, what are the State Fair grounds going to do when the Fair isn’t going?
Other Caroline County attractions include the 40,000-square-foot Virginia Sports Center, a popular venue for youth sports tournaments; Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs golf courses; and the historic town of Bowling Green, which is near where Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was killed.
What about the Four Winds Club’s Public Golf Course? It always seems that Port Royal is forgotten about (heck, Calvin Taylor took credit for Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs as the first golf courses in the county when Four Winds has been here for decades!).
What historic tourism events are there in Bowling Green? I can’t think of any. The Old Mansion is a bed and breakfast and isn’t open to the public.
The only historic site that I can think of is the Jackson Shrine (hey, isn’t that in the Port Royal district, too?).
There’s the Lyceum that hasn’t been restored in Port Royal too. There’s the two surviving chimneys of Dorothy Roy’s home. None of the historic structures in Port Royal are open to the public that I’m aware. All the old homes are currently occupied.
Uh…John Wilkes Booth was killed a heck of a lot closer to Port Royal than Bowling Green. Too bad the visitors center is on the other side of the county! Besides, all there is to see where Booth was killed is a sign by the road…
Looks like the visitors center was built in the wrong part of the county!
Wilson said there’s no way to predict the economic impact the new tourism manager and visitor center will have, but he expects the county will see an uptick in meals- and lodging-tax revenues. They’ll also make it easier to recruit new tourist attractions, as well as other businesses, since his office will move from Bowling Green to the center.
“Of course not, we can’t predict how much money this will waste.” Or as Jeff Sili has said, “[t]he Visitor Center does not have to be just a fancy office for Wilson and a way to move county employees out of our county seat to further undermine the business climate”.
“I-95 is like a river with money rolling through it,” he said. “We need to be able to dip into that river and bring that money into the county. We’ve never had an opportunity to do that before.”