The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce is ready and willing to remain the region's primary tourism marketer, its leaders said Wednesday, even as they endorse a spinoff organization that also seeks the designation.
The chamber, which has been the designated marketing organization for the city of Beaufort and northern Beaufort County since about 1984, "is well prepared and positioned to continue its DMO services," officials said in a prepared statement.
By state law, the city and county shall select one or more organizations to receive a slice of their accommodations taxes and use that money to promote tourism. In the past, the chamber has received several hundred thousand dollars a year from those governments.
The statement is the chamber's first since officials from the Beaufort, Port Royal & the Sea Islands Visitor & Convention Bureau, which is separating from the chamber, began seeking the DMO status at public meetings last week.
The chamber decided earlier this year to spin off the VCB after officials said the move could strengthen both organizations.
In its statement Wednesday, the chamber said it has endorsed the visitor bureau to be considered for DMO status but will remain in that capacity if the city and county wish.
"If the city and county decide not to designate the visitor bureau as their DMO, the chamber wants to make clear that it is the current DMO and is not 'stepping down' as the DMO," the chamber said.
When asked if the chamber has a preference which organization ultimately becomes the region's DMO, chairman Jon Rembold responded, "That's a question I can't answer for you right now."
He did say chamber officials are intent the DMO status remain with an organization in northern Beaufort County.
The chamber might take a more definitive stance after its board finishes discussing the matter, he said.
About a third of the chamber's 26-member board changes each year, Rembold said. This year's board has met only once and has not finished discussions of the DMO status, he said.
Bob Moquin, visitor bureau executive director, said his organization couldn't consummate its split with the chamber if it doesn't receive the DMO status.
The bureau has established its own shell entity but remains a department of the chamber for now and "couldn't operate without revenue," he said.
Follow reporter Josh McCann at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.
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