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Visitors Bureau ready to get back to promoting Warren County

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Warren County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Dave Sherman speaks during a recent board meeting held at the Bureau’s Starbrick office.

“We need to get back to doing what our mission is and that is to promote Warren County a little more.”

The Warren County Visitors Bureau has been in an interesting pickle — encourage people to come to Warren County because of low COVID-19 case counts or encourage them to stay away for now for the exact same reason?

After staff took staggered furloughs for the summer to save money, the WCVB is ready to get back to work, according to Executive Director Dave Sherman.

“We’ve just survived six month of unprecedented uncertainty,” he explained.

Financially, the loss of hotel tax revenue – the WCVB’s primary source of funding – has roughly equaled the cost cutting measures brought about by the pandemic.

Sherman highlighted the layoffs, lack of part-time staff at the Kinzua Point Information Center and the “mass cancellation of events that we sponsored and promoted.”

“It cut our expenses dramatically,” he said.

Hotel tax revenue is down roughly $25,000 or roughly 25 percent compared to 2019.

However, the amount spent on promotions — budgeted for $54,000 — has been only half spent, Sherman said.

“We had to do what we had to do,” he said. “We couldn’t make up events…. We haven’t asked for one penny of help.

As is to be expected, the number of people coming though the Starbrick building is down considerably year over year.

“We’ve had over a thousand less visitors to our building,” Sherman said. “That’s significant.”

“We made due and we made it work,” he continued. “Not only that, I think we’re positioned well to start doing more.”

So what does that message look like?

“It’s time to put together a video and a commercial and talk about what Warren has done for 200 years and that’s practice social distancing,” Sherman said. “We could stick our heads in the sand… or we could go to work conveying a safe message to the world and anybody that listens.”

The board in a recent meeting spent time discussing taglines and a potential focus for that video.

“We managed well,” Sherman said. “Let’s build on that. I’m ready to get after it. We can’t just hide from this.”

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