JACKSON — Northampton County Tourism Development Authority officials are working hard to make sure the county benefits from its occupancy tax.
The $40,000 occupancy tax collected last year from the county’s one hotel has been used in various ways to promote the county to others.
“We are doing a lot on that $40,000,” said Dick Collier, director of the Authority.
Collier provided the update during this week’s Northampton County Board of Commissioners and Mayors meeting. The budget has been used to create new promotional brochures and buy ads in local and state publications.
The Tourism Development Authority was formed in 2008.
With its website, Collier wants to connect it to every municipality, club and nonprofit in Northampton County. And beginning in the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Authority will offer mini grants to help those entities have a web presence.
“It is important to get tourism in Northampton County, and each town needs to have a website,” he said. “The county has a lot to offer.”
For Collier, a website is like a road map because a lot of people look at the website
(visitnorthamptonnc.com) and then want to see what else is offered.
The goal is to have $2,000 to $3,000 a year set aside for the grants. In the next few months, Collier plans to make a presentation to each of the nine municipalities and various organizations in the county.
Tourism is a big industry in North Carolina, with the state ranked sixth in the nation.
In 2010, visitors spent $11.9 million in Northampton County.
Collier pointed out Halifax County has done well with tourism, along with other counties in the state.
“I can remember when Currituck (County) didn’t have anything. And now, they have a $1 million budget,” he said.
Some of the Authority’s goals include having a dedicated visitors center and recruiting hotels and tourism-related businesses.
Officials are working to obtain the Sir Archie building in downtown Jackson to house the tourism authority, the Northampton Chamber of Commerce and Northampton County Economic Development. Currently, the building is vacant. The tourism authority is housed with the chamber of commerce.
“It would house the three revenue engines in Northampton County,” Collier said. “It would be one-stop shopping for economic development.”
The building would be a visible location with substantial parking.
Collier said he is working with the state’s Department of Transportation to promote scenic byways and to promote historic markers and looking at African-American history in areas of the Underground Railroad and the county’s Rosenwald Schools.
“We want to pursue this,” Collier said.
Roy Bell, mayor of Garysburg, felt North-ampton County had a lot to offer.
He thanked Collier and his wife Judy, who is executive director of Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, for their hard work.
Gaston Mayor Tim Andrews said people get so involved with their lives that they don’t stop to look around and see where they live.
“You cannot do away with your history,” he said.