Visitors bureau shift to fee-based model needed step

The Lycoming County Visitors Bureau is now allowing access to its services through a fee-based model.

That will allow businesses and non-profit organizations that are not members of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce to access the bureau’s services.

The recently announced move answers a previous criticism of the bureau that it was not inclusive enough. The annual fee is $30 for each of the bureau’s five services – website, Visitors Information Center brochure display, Visitors Guide listing, brochure delivery and motorcoach marketing – with a maximum amount of $150 paying for all the services.

While the bureau has been criticized for making these services members-only, that policy actually matched the manner in which most chamber-affiliated bureaus operate. Currently 42 of the 49 tourist promotion agencies are membership based, so this move makes the local bureau only the eighth in the state to allow access to non-members.

We believe the move is overdue and now puts the local bureau ahead rather than behind what will be a future trend. Our hope would be that the access for non-chamber members also would go a long way toward blunting some of the criticisms the bureau has taken in the past.

Tourism is a very big deal in our area, with the potential to make an even greater impact in the future. The area is hosting an international drum and bugle corps competition following the Little League World Series this year, giving the region about a month of sustained, big-time, tourism-related activity. Tourism leadership is looking to expand their time exposure annually in the future and has some updates to a local facility or two on the drawing board.

The expanding portfolio makes the Visitors Bureau marketing important and inclusion in the product vital to many more businesses and non-profit organizations. The increased access to that marketing is in the best interests of all parties.