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Fishing tournaments bring $16 million a year to county

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Minto: More hotels would mean more revenue

By KEVIN KOELLING
Managing Editor

TELL CITY – Fishing tournaments bring millions of dollars to Perry County each year, Bev Minto told the county commissioners at a regular meeting March 3 at The Depot in Tell City.

The executive director for the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau said she met with tournament organizers, “and they sat down and figured out how many fishermen they bring in and what they spend … throughout the year.”

She was providing the commissioners an overview of her organization’s activities, and explained that she answers to directors’ boards for the visitors bureau and the Perry County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Promotion Commission. The latter organization was created in 1995 to create and collect an innkeepers tax, Minto explained. The visitors bureau was created as a tax-exempt organization whose role would be to develop and operate programs promoting tourism, conventions and other special events.

With offices at The Depot, “our main function is marketing Perry County through whatever channels are available,” she reported. “Our main source of advertising is through print. We also use social media (such as) Facebook, Twitter (and) YouTube. We are looking into blogs and Pinterest. I will also look into radio for special events.”

Bass are big business

Minto said she knew fishing was the county’s biggest source of tourism revenue, “but I didn’t know how much.” Approximately 2,500 boats are involved in the tournaments annually, with two people in each one, she explained. The visitors spend three to five nights in hotels each visit. They buy gas for their boats and the vehicles towing them, meals, “and we didn’t even figure in their families,” she said of anglers who bring them along. Many of the events occur during the summer and some people take advantage of other local attractions like Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, the director noted.

“I know everybody at Rocky Point complains because they can’t get through when the fishing tournaments are there,” she continued. “I wave at them when I see them on the river.”

Some of the local fishing competitions draw enough interest that “they give away boats at the end of the tourneys,” Minto said. “There’s big money, and they do that right here in Perry County.”

No vacancy

The county’s hotels have 192 rooms that generate $155,000 in innkeeper-tax revenue annually, she said, explaining the tax adds 5 percent to a hotel bill. They’re not enough to meet the demand, she added, explaining some acquaintances had trouble getting a room when they were having floors in their home redone.

“She could not find a room for two days in the middle of the week for a two-week period,” Minto said. “It’s hard to find a room.”

“We do a lot of business travel,” she continued, explaining people are often forced to stay in other cities, such as Owensboro, Newburgh or Jasper. “I’m really excited about the hotel across the street,” she said, referring to a proposal for further development of the city’s Seventh Street. Hotels would also be useful near the bridge connecting Cannelton to Hawesville, Ky., and near Interstate 64, she added, saying demand has driven room prices upward and hotels being at their capacities limits revenues and opportunities for scheduling new festivals.

“We have started a group looking into passenger-rail excursions from Tell City to Lincoln City,” she also told the commissioners. Nonprofit status is being sought for a newly formed Friends of Perry County Rail, she added, “so we could secure grants and other forms of donations.”