Brookings is considering re-establishing a relationship with the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce to conduct tourism promotion — the first time in more than five years since the two groups quit working with each other.
City Manager Gary Milliman, who has been serving as the ex-officio member on the chamber board, said the city will discuss renewing the relationship as it relates to promoting tourism, at a workshop Jan. 4.
The chamber and city ceased working together in 2012 when they couldn’t agree on how long a contract by which to abide or agree to a new tourism promotion plan.
In April 2012, the city council approved a one-year contract with the chamber for tourism promotion. But the chamber said it was “not willing to entertain a contract term of less than five years,” according to a memo. They ceased tourism promotion activities on behalf of the city at the end of June.
According to then Chamber Executive Director Les Cohen and President Ken Bryan, a longer-term agreement was needed so the chamber could effectively plan promotional campaigns and take advantage of lower-cost media buys.
Since then, Cohen retired from his 22-year post at the chamber and the organization went through fits and starts, almost becoming defunct in the ensuing years.
The city in turn created the Tourism Promotion Advisory Committee, which is in charge of allocating money designated for tourism promotion. Much of the money goes to advertising in the Rogue River Valley, but a good portion is designated to new, off-season events intended to draw people to the coast.
City tourism money, the bulk of which was spent through the chamber, is collected through Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) assessed against people staying in hotels and other accommodations. It typically raises about $37,000 for tourism efforts for Brookings.
In Oregon, 70 percent of TOT money must be invested in tourism promotion; the remainder goes to a city or county’s general fund. But Brookings already had a TOT tax in place when that law was passed, so its allocation — 75 to the general fund and the remainder to tourism — was grandfathered in. Any increase in the TOT, however, would fall under the 70-30 split.
With that money, the city’s tourism committee has helped promote the crab festival at the port in January, Oktoberfest in September at Azalea Park, the Nutcracker ballet in December and other events.
Brookings also opened a visitor information station at city hall and has had staff promote tourism, negotiate advertising contracts, design graphics, respond to public inquiries and participate in regional tourism promotion efforts.
Milliman said in recent board meetings, the chamber has discussed the future of the organization and expressed a renewed interest in re-establishing the relationship with the city.