NEWTON GROVE — During a Monday meeting, town commissioners received an update on a vision for the Sampson County Convention & Visitors Bureau and how they can be involved.
Sheila Barefoot, director of the organization, presented a report about visitors and how they impact the area. She has been visiting towns across Sampson and was set to speak to the Clinton City Council at its meeting Tuesday night. The purpose of the CVB is to market and promote the county through several efforts such as marketing, providing assistance at local events and developing partnerships with CVBs from other counties.
“The most important goal is to have input from all of our stakeholders,” Barefoot said to the board.
A consultant firm was hired by the Sampson CVB to assist with the strategic planning process. Barefoot said a consultant is expected to begin next week by visiting towns throughout Sampson County.
“We want everyone to get involved,” Barefoot said in regards to joining meetings or participating in conference calls. “We need your input. We want to make this strategic plan really work for us for the next five or six years.”
Some of the plans included partnerships with Visit NC, a department of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, as well as Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina and exploring opportunities to attract meetings to the area.
“We have a wonderful exposition center here and a lot of our surrounding counties don’t have that,” she said.
In addition to making presentations, some of the other plans include a rack card program, updating the website with the help of high school interns and working with legislators to pass a bill regarding the rate of occupancy tax for the county, which is currently 3 percent.
“I’m working to get that increased to 6 percent,” Barefoot said. “All of our surrounding counties have 6 percent, except Johnston County, which is 5 percent.”
Barefoot said she and others are awaiting final approval from Governor Pat McCrory and the Sampson County Board of Commissioners.
Another project is the Barn Quilts of Sampson County. The CVB agreed to pay up to $200 for municipalities throughout the county to have barn quilts in their communities. Barefoot is currently working on a mapping project to show all of the barn quilts in Sampson County.
Barefoot also provided an update about the Cycle NC-Mountains to Coast Tour, which will include more than 1,000 cyclists coming through Clinton.
“We want to roll out the red carpet for everybody and show them what Sampson County is all about,” Barefoot said.
According to a economic impact study from Visit NC and the US Travel Association, visitors spent more than $47 million in Sampson County in 2014. That’s an increase of 2.3 percent from the previous year. Barefoot also showed how 280 people were employed as a result of spending in places such as restaurants, lodging facilities or stores. Sales tax revenue from visitors was listed at $2.5 million and local tax revenue of $1.4 million. As a result of visitor spending, the tax savings for residents was $4 million, she said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook