The Travel and Tourism Joint Powers Board normally doesn’t promote Jackson Hole to summer visitors, but in light of the pandemic shutdowns it has set aside money in case that’s the right thing to do this year.
A fiscal year 2021 budget approved by board members last week has $450,000 for “destination relaunch” marketing.
Creating that pot from reserves, board members said, gives them the flexibility to dip into it when the time is right and it’s safe to start pushing the message “Come to Jackson Hole.”
“Just to kickstart the economy,” Executive Director Kate Sollitt said after the meeting. “It will need all the help it can get.”
Also included in the budget, which must be approved by town and county elected officials, is $200,000 for community stimulus to jump-start local marketing efforts.
The Travel and Tourism Board is funded by the 2% tax on lodging bills in Teton County. It allocates 60% of the collected funds, and the town and county handle the other 40%.
The board projects lodging tax collections will drop from $4.4 million to $2.2 million as a result of the pandemic, but it is “keeping overall spend at similar levels to last year to help bring our local tourism economy back if needed and when appropriate,” Sollitt said.
The overall spend will be $4,144,121 or, if budgeted reserves go unspent, $3,794,121, she said.
Given the pandemic the Travel and Tourism Board’s new budget earmarks less money for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce for visitor services. It also allocates $300,000 to Jackson Hole Central Reservations’ air incentive program, which is less than some supporters in the local travel industry wanted.
The program, which JH Central Reservations funds, offers travelers several hundred dollars off their airfare when they book air, hotel and an activity like skiing or snowmobiling.
Board members said they are comfortable with $300,000 for now but are open to an increase in spending once the situation is clearer.
“I don’t share the optimism that air travel will be at the same level we’ve seen historically,” board Chairman Brian Gallagher said.