CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners heard that hotel tax is rising during an update Tuesday from Holly Komonczi, executive director of the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority.
Komonczi said she and her staff promote tourism opportunities county-wide, which in turn helps fill local hoteliers. Over the last year, she said there’s been an $85,000 increase in hotel tax collections.
Further, she said hotel tax rose from $461,320 in 2010 to $546, 325 last year. The hotel tax collection began in 2004 at which time it totaled $320,076, and it has since increased by more than $220,000.
According to her, it’s difficult to track who is filling the beds at local hoteliers, as neither she nor the CCRTA staff actually meets them. However, she contacts a random sample of hotel managers monthly for input.
She said the county has a “great location” off of Interstate 80 and has also been “lucky” to experience the influx generated by industry. She said people who are traveling are staying here, because there are many hotels available.
In one instance over this past summer, Komonczi said one local hotel had to turn away 100 people who simply stopped off I-80 one Saturday. At the same time, she noted the first and fourth quarters have been weaker for the county.
She said the CCRTA has pulled together winter campaign packages, attempting to attract people here from around the region during the winter months.
According to her, one package is an overnight stay for four at the Comfort Inn for $100. It includes a free hot breakfast, hotel pool access and a $20 gift certificate for Fun Central. Another winter getaway includes a spa package with a stay at a local bed and breakfast.
At a recent CCRTA board meeting, Komonczi said one of her board members spoke about their family staying at the Holiday Inn Express, going out for a nice dinner and using the hotel pool.
Commissioner Chairperson John A. Sobel asked if Komonczi knew what parts of the world people were coming from, mentioning he’d heard about a couple from France. Komonczi said that couple stayed at Peggy Durant’s Victorian Loft Bed & Breakfast.
According to Komonczi, Durant shares information with her regularly about the travels of her guests. She said this information is easier to obtain from local bed and breakfasts.
“We’re getting a lot of people from the Northeast and the Midwest,” Komonczi said. “But there isn’t any real good way to track it. We get a lot of people who are just meeting up here. It’s a popular midway point.”
Commissioner Mark B. McCracken pointed out that when the CCRTA was established, its early goals revolved around creating a Clearfield County Travel Planner and issuing tourism-related grants.
In addition, he said they wanted to draw people to the county’s events. For example, he said this past weekend’s wine festival was “packed” during both the afternoon and evening sessions.
“I think it (the CCRTA) has been very successful,” McCracken said.
Komonczi said the CCRTA has made one major change to its tourism grant program. She said any tourism-related business or municipality may apply for up to $7,500 in matching funding for signage and marketing-related projects.