Tourism overhaul was the right thing to do

To the Editor:

Democracy is working in Jackson County! This week’s passage of the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) Resolution is a much-welcomed newly sprouting seed in the political landscape in the national drought of our country’s overall political climate. Our compliments to the Jackson County Commissioners and the members of the Occupancy Tax Steering Committee.

The passage of the TDA Resolution was a year-long process, beginning with all the interest groups far apart with very strongly held views. Although it has at times been a heated exchange of ideas, it was always without rancor and always moving forward with some give and take. Because the end goal — increased tourism and an economic boost in Jackson County — was a goal common to all.

Even in the end, rather than having a merely pro forma public comments session, the commissioners seriously considered the public input and made changes that integrated others’ ideas making the final resolution an acceptable compromise.

Recognition should also be given to the County Manager, Chuck Wooten, and the County Attorney, Jay Coward, who both worked quietly and effectively behind the scenes, to ensure a solid piece of legislation.

My only regret — and we have talked privately — is that Mark Jones, the only county commissioner directly involved in the hospitality industry, the Chairman of the Occupancy Tax Steering Committee and a county commissioner, did not take the opportunity to move consensus further forward, to wit, by publicly stating his opposition to the tax raise but voting for the TDA Resolution — recognizing it was the best possible compromise that every one involved had worked so hard on.

It should also be noted that the County Manager has taken action so that any member of the Hospitality Industry in Jackson County who desires to serve on the TDA Board can “throw their name in the hat” — an expansion of the program that Mr. Wooten implemented to increase public participation on all county boards.

Now it is the task of the TDA board that will take over operations from the two Travel & Tourism Associations at the beginning of the year, to develop an integrated and unified program representing all of Jackson County and effectively using the additional tax revenue to increase tourism in Jackson County, thereby enhancing the county’s economic well-being.

George & Hanneke Ware, Chalet Inn


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