The Anson County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) spent the majority of its June meeting discussing the proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Vice chairman Jeff Boothby reported that he and tourism director Dave Smith have been working on the budget for weeks. “What we’re looking to do is to really kick-start our advertising and marketing campaign so people will know about Anson County,” Boothby said.
With that said, Boothby proposed that 30 percent of the budget be earmarked for advertising. “We don’t want to be the place that has stoplights on the way to the beach,” he said. “We need to have at least 20 to 30 percent of the budget devoted to getting our name out there.”
TDA member J.D. Bricken, manager of the Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge, said that Anson needs to find out how to get on automated GPS systems. He said that when motorists pass through the county now, they don’t see any restaurants or other destinations on their GPS devices.
He added that the county needs a brand-name hotel also. “But we need to show a brand-name hotel that we have the tourism numbers,” Smith pointed out.
“I don’t think we will be taken seriously until we have the agri-civic center,” Boothby said. “We have to work with what we have now. We need to work on getting people from five to seven hours away, people who want to stay here.” Former chairman Nancy Cromwell countered, “We need to have things for them to do once they get here, like having our museums and stores open on Saturdays.”
Bricken said that the reason Ansonville is able to maintain a museum is because the people in that community are passionate about it and willing to volunteer their time to keep it open. “This needs to be one of our focuses for the coming year,” Boothby said.
Cromwell said that finding people who are willing to volunteer time is another hurdle the group must overcome if there are to be any museums or shops open longer hours, or signature events in town, like the Arts and Heritage Festival that she planned for two years. “You have to have it be your life,” she said.
After discussion, the TDA approved the allocation of $1,500 for Smith’s travel, $1,000 for office supplies, $5,000 to support local events and $6,000 for miscellaneous. The budget was tabled until the next meeting, when prices for Internet and other utilities can be determined.
The group also unanimously declined the option of advertising in the “Carolina Heritage Guide.” Boothby said he didn’t feel there was much for the county to advertise at this time.