The Anson County Tourism Development Authority discussed several projects at its monthly meeting on Jan. 9.
TDA director Dave Smith discussed creating an inventory of areas in Anson County that could be exploited as tourist attractions. The board will look at sites that are on public land, visible from the road, or at the wildlife refuge, including areas along the river.
Additionally, Smith stated that in order for the upcoming agri-civic center to work for large groups such as conferences, attractive housing must be provided for them. To convince the “movers and shakers” of the lodging industry that a motel in the area would be profitable, the existing lodging facilities must be filled, Smith said. Spending an additional amount on advertising would increase tourism in the area, he said.
Smith proposed an increase in advertising of $15,000. He also recommended that a beautification project be done at sites such as the center for Samuel Spencer. The board will consider the information Smith provided before moving forward.
After some discussion, TDA chairwoman Jessica Anderson was appointed to go to the North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Wilmington from March 10-12. According to NCCommerce.com, the conference will draw “500 leaders from across the state to catch up on the latest trends and issues facing the travel industry. Participants come from throughout the state’s resorts, attractions, destination marketing organizations, hotels/motels, vacation rental companies, restaurants, and retail outlets.” The conference registration is $399 and includes access to a Sunday evening reception, as well as all sessions, breaks and meal functions on Monday and Tuesday.
Smith suggested changing the idea for a Morven cornbread contest to a festival instead, as events and days could be added to expand it from a simple contest. Additionally, Smith said there was some discussion about moving the Discover Anson bike ride from November, since some bike riders complained that they were cold.
Anderson announced the resignation of board member Steve Bailey via a letter dated Dec. 13. Bailey’s decision was based on “negative remarks in [that] week’s Anson Record regarding how the TDA does not spend money where it should be spent.” On Dec. 12, the Anson Record published an article that included comments made by Merrie Datin, owner of the Forever Inn, to the board of commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Datin complained that the TDA “killed the spirits of some small businesses in town because of this heads in beds mentality” and was unhappy that the TDA turned down a request for $400 to fund an art contest at its Oct. 10 meeting. The TDA’s decision was based on the fact that of the 10 people who attended the art contest last year, all were from Anson County. This made its suitability for funding questionable under the guidelines of the TDA to promote tourism by bringing people from outside the county in, according to the board.
The board went into closed session to discuss personnel matters.