by Margo Christensen, Chairwoman, Prescott Tourism Advisory Committee
As board chairwoman of Prescott’s Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), I have the privilege to work almost daily with the team at the City of Prescott Tourism Office.
This City department is structured as the official Destination Management Organization (DMO) for Prescott, and only one DMO can exist in a city or town.
The City staff in Prescott’s DMO includes John Heiney, Tourism Office Director & Community Outreach Manager; Wendy Bridges, Economic Development Coordinator; Ann Steward, Sales & Marketing Coordinator; Heather Hermen, Front Burner Media, Marketing Agency; and Joe Baynes, Recreation Services Director.
Supporting the tourism office is a 10-member Tourism Advisory Committee whose role is to advise, provide guidance and strategic direction to the tourism team.
Funding for this office comes from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), commonly referred to as the bed tax. This tax is paid by visitors who stay in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodations inside the city limits. State statute and Prescott’s bed-tax ballot language require this tax revenue to be used for tourism promotion and recreational amenities and development, thus the reason for a DMO.
The primary responsibilities of a DMO are to promote an area as an attractive travel destination, develop long-term tourism strategies, create marketing and public relation campaigns, and work closely with the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) on co-op marketing programs, trade shows, sales missions and familiarization tours (FAMs).
The Prescott Tourism Office promotes the entire Prescott area and focuses on all segments of travel including leisure, meetings, events, sports, outdoor recreation and culture and themes, such as Arizona’s Christmas City.
Collecting bed tax and having a successful DMO not only supports sales and marketing functions, but also benefits local Prescott residents.
In FY2018, nearly 60 percent ($545,000) of bed-tax collections will go back into the community in the form of recreation service capital projects, open space management, the downtown parking garage, World’s Oldest Rodeo, Courthouse Lighting, museum support and 27 grants given to local nonprofit events.
In the past few years we have seen consistent double-digit growth in bed-tax collections nearly every month with no signs of slowing down.
Our small but very mighty tourism team has done a phenomenal job promoting Prescott statewide, across the country and in Canada, Europe and China. With the addition of our new, nonstop flight service from LAX and Denver, it will be easier than ever for additional visitors to travel to Prescott and enjoy our amenities, attractions and hometown hospitality.
We know tourism is a major economic driver for our community, and there is a team of dedicated, experienced people focused on making sure this industry stays robust.