Webster quits Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Mary Alys Cherry

Webster is dropping out of the Bay Area Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau – noting that it doesn’t feel it is getting enough bang for its buck.

The city has been paying the CVB 15 percent of the hotel occupancy taxes its 17 hotels collect to provide tourism services — a total of approximately $130,000 this year.

The action came during City Council’s December meeting after Councilwoman Alexandra Dietrich, who represents the municipality on its CVB board, presented a detailed report to the city on her investigation.

“We just don’t think we’re getting enough bang for our buck,” she told City Council, explaining that Webster was hardly mentioned in CVB advertisements, yet the city, with its many hotels collecting the tourism tax, has been the CVB’s biggest contributor.

Economic Development Director Dr. Betsy Gisuto told Council that her office had repeatedly asked for accountability, but so far had received none.

“While the regional visitors bureau has been requested to demonstrate efforts that place visitors in Webster’s hotels, tract ads to ascertain effectiveness for the region’s hotels or implement initiatives that have a direct impact for hotel occupancy, this has not transpired,” Guisto said in a previous report to Council.

The vote was 6-1 to not approve continuing the contract with the CVB. Councilman Mel Donehue voted no.

“Of course we are disappointed that the City of Webster has decided not to participate in our ongoing efforts to market our destinations and attractions as a region vs. community by community,” said Pam Summers, president, Bay Area Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our regional destination marketing programs have proven to be very successful over the past 11 years and we will continue to provide strong benefits, services and value to our member cities.”

Webster has a marketing and tourism coordinator and economic development team that has always engaged in initiatives that result in hotel occupancy (heads in beds) for the city’s hotels–including funding the TxDOT blue logo signage on I-45 for the hotels, Giusto said..

It also has a partnership with Space Center Houston’s to publicize its hotels and publishes a dining and entertainment guide that is disseminated at Space Center Houston, visitor centers, and mailed out to potential visitors.

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