The future of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s role in local tourism is still up in the air, following a recent city council vote to table a sub-committee’s recommendation to move the tourism funding under the city’s control.
Both sides of the argument have merit. The city council has every right to question what the chamber is doing with the more than $100,000 it receives each year from the hotel/motel tax and how effective the organization is with fulfilling the purpose of that tax: promoting tourism and putting these outside heads in local hotel beds.
The chamber certainly needs to provide the city with consistent, thorough and clear reporting. And, it is worth investigating why the money the chamber has received has increased substantially over the past 10 years.
But now that the chamber has agreed to be more rigorous in its reporting, it is time to give them a chance do so. The chamber’s new President and CEO Brendon Payne had just been brought on board when this dispute over funding began late last year. It’s not fair to criticize his organization and then give him no time to alleviate the city’s concerns.
While the council’s subcommittee may believe the city can do a better job of promoting tourism, we have yet to see a convincing plan that outlines how exactly they plan to do so. We find it difficult to believe three individuals who already have a full-time work load could absorb this significant responsibility.
The city should give the chamber and Payne some time to respond and adjust to their very legitimate reporting requests. If after a year there is no marked improvement, then the city should take another hard look at tourism funding.
The council should fund the chamber’s Convention and Visitors Bureau through the next fiscal year, and then conduct a review at that time. It is the fair and right thing to do.
This opinion reflects that of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at email@example.com.