Beaufort News

Chamber, VCB to remain one organization

The Beaufort, Port Royal & the Sea Islands Visitor & Convention Bureau will remain part of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, chamber officials say.

The chamber's board of directors voted last week not to split the two organizations into two separate entities, but instead fold the bureau into a new Tourism, Travel and Convention Division, according to the chamber.

The new division will oversee tourism promotions, work closely with area hospitality officials and operate the Visitors Center on Craven Street, the chamber said.

Last week's vote differed from one cast in March, when chamber board members decided to spin off the bureau, claiming the move could strengthen both organizations.

Blakely Williams, chamber president and CEO, said the board felt it was not in the best interest of the area tourism industry to split the two organizations.

"In order to do what's best for area businesses and the tourism industry of northern Beaufort County, we are going to remain one organization," Williams said.

Despite the vote earlier this year, the visitor bureau had yet to operate on its own, Williams said.

Jeff Thomas, outgoing chairman of the bureau's advisory board, would say only that he was "glad to see the chamber taking a strong and renewed interest in tourism marketing."

Bob Moquin, executive director of the bureau, and Jon Rembold, president of the chamber's board of directors, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

The decision to keep the bureau part of the chamber will prevent the spin-off organization from challenging the chamber's status as the region's primary tourism marketer.

Before last week's vote, visitor bureau officials had been lobbying to become the designated marketing organization for the city of Beaufort and northern Beaufort County, which would entitle it to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue from hospitality and accommodations taxes to promote tourism.

The chamber has been the region's designated marketing organization since 1984.

Williams said the decision not to divide the two organizations had little to do with a showdown over funding, which seemed imminent.

"It didn't play a big part in (the decision), but it's certainly an important piece of the puzzle," Williams said. "We are the DMO for northern Beaufort County, and that is certainly a responsibility we take seriously."

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  1. Chamber of Commerce, Visitor & Convention Bureau square off to head Beaufort County tourism, July 20, 2011
  2. Change in marketing designation matter of semantics, VCB head says, July 16, 2011
  3. Splitting Beaufort chamber, visitor bureau could make both stronger, officials say, February 5, 2011