We are a week into February. The terms of all the people still serving on the Tourism Board expired more than a month ago, at the end of December, and there has been no apparent moves to reappoint people or appoint new people to the board.
The Tourism Board was created in 2017 by the same legislation that established the lodging tax. The nine member board, chaired by the alder who chaired the Economic Development Committee, was made up of four members appointed by the mayor and four members appointed by the Common Council. According to the law, the Tourism Board was "empowered to take all reasonable steps it determines desirable, necessary and proper to market the City of Hudson as a destination for overnight and day-trip visitors."
In 2019, when the original Tourism Board wanted to hire a consulting firm called Chandlerthinks to help craft a marketing strategy for Hudson, there was a groundswell of objection. So, in 2020, a whole new Tourism Board was put in place, one that was determined to "rethink and redefine 'tourism' to benefit Hudson." In two years, this group doled out close to half a million dollars funding projects that conformed with their redefinition of tourism in the time of a pandemic. The group was criticized for funding projects with connections to members of the board and projects that could not demonstrate they attracted visitors to Hudson.
This year, the Tourism Board has about $50,000 to invest in events and initiatives, but so far, there is no Tourism Board in place to make decisions about how to distribute the money. The rumor is that there may not be a third iteration of the Tourism Board and its role in distributing funding may be taken over by a committee of alders. This would bring us back to 2000, when the Arts, Entertainment and Tourism Committee was established as a standing committee of the Common Council. During its existence (it was eliminated by Council president Tom DePietro in 2018), one of the committee's major tasks was parceling out a pot of money, usually $20,000 or $25,000, to festivals and events seeking support from the City.
Last night, Alder Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) asked about the Tourism Board. He was told by DePietro that a resolution was "in the works" regarding the Tourism Board, which would be presented at the Council's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 15. We will all find out then what's to become of the Tourism Board.
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