Held May 5th Through The 11th-- National Travel And Tourism Week Takes Off

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Benton County Tourism and Recreation (BCTR) has been working to provide economic prosperity in our county since 2010. In an effort to be more transparent and to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (May 5-11), the BCTR is holding a Meet the Tourism Board casual come-and-go event on May 9, at the Landing Bistro, from 5–7 PM. The slogan for the meeting is “Where Fun Means Business.” It is a chance for the public to meet one-on-one with board members, learn about what the board is doing to promote travel and tourism for the county, and discover the economic impact it has in our rural communities.
The  purpose of the 36th annual National Travel and Tourism celebration is to unite communities across the country to celebrate how travel matters to American jobs, economic growth, and personal well-being.
“The statistics tell the story,” said Lynette Stokes, Executive Director of BCTR. “Travel supports one in nine American jobs, including 420 jobs right here in Benton County. Almost $18 million was spent in tourism-related expenditures in 2018 per the MO Division of Tourism’s annual report. We are celebrating travel’s powerful impact on our community.”
BCTR is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to increase visitation and awareness of the Benton County area. Its goal is to harness the county’s great tourism potential and transform it into an engine for growth and development that contributes to the goal of a prosperous economic future.
By utilizing the transient guest tax, combined with corporate support for this continued economic growth, BCTR develops an annual marketing plan. This plan focuses on highlighting the county’s natural assets, as well as the heritage, in order to provide a rewarding and memorable experience to all visitors.
“We feel our marketing plan is both comprehensive and economical, allowing us to target tourists looking for outdoor recreational opportunities, history and heritage, unique dining or shopping, and driving them to our area,” said Stokes. “I couldn’t be more excited and proud about what our future holds by working together as a team with the cities, the Chambers of Commerce and businesses. We can do great things together.”
Detailed information about BCTR can be viewed at www.visitbentoncomo.com.about. A quick glance at the site shows that gross receipts from the Benton County Tourism Guest Tax totaled $56,414 in FY 18, up from $43,555 in 2014. However, it should be noted that the $56,414 amount doesn’t include several non-paying lodges, and the BCTR is pursuing efforts to collect those payments. The 2019 budget includes the following five categories: transient lodging tax, cities and county partners, corporate contributions, State of Missouri marketing grants, and event income (before expenses.)
Expenditures by the BCTR include advertising/events, administration, professional memberships/services, BCTR Grants, and general reserve. Advertising/Events expenditures are spent on print, fairs/shows, internet advertising, billboards, conferences/meetings, travel and marketing firm fees. Administration includes contractor fees, phones, internet, postage, supplies, printing, insurance, and tax preparation. BCTR Tourism grant applications were approved in February 2019, totaling $6,300 to visitor attractions, community event organizers, and other non-profit organizations. The purpose was to help reimburse these entities for expenses related to promoting, encouraging and attracting visitors to Benton County, after they provided receipts for relevant expenses. 
Don’t forget! The public is invited to Meet the Tourism Board on May 9, at the Landing Bistro, from 5 to 7 PM. To find out more about Benton County Tourism and Recreation, visit www.visitbentoncomo.com.  Lynette Stokes can be contacted at 660-438-2090, or by email at lstokes@visitbentoncomo.com.