The3rd meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Monday, November 16, 2009, at 10:30 AM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Gerry Van der Meer, Commissioner, Department of Parks; Larry Totten, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Parks; LaDonna Miller, Director of Marketing and Sales, Marcheta Sparrow, Secretary, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and Matt Osborne, Executive Director, Office of Governmental Relations Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
LRC Staff: Kelly Dudley, Melissa Hagan, Perry Papka and Christina Williams.
Chairman Harris welcomed the members and guests to the meeting and thanked all who were in attendance. Because a quorum was present, Chairman Harris approved the minutes from the June 4, 2009 and October 22, 2009 meetings.
Secretary Sparrow introduced herself and the staff of the Department of Parks to the committee and gave a brief overview of the Department. Commissioner Van der Meer elaborated on current happenings within the Department of Parks. Director Miller utilized a PowerPoint presentation to give a marketing update of the Department.
Representative Keene commended the Department on what a great and thorough job they have done marketing all of the Kentucky Parks. He asked if the money amount shown in the presentation of $304,760 that was generated from the $50 a room nights at the parks, only included room fare or if it included money spent on meals and gas in the area. Director Miller stated the figure given only included the money generated from room fare. Representative Keene stated he believed that dollar amount may have doubled because of other purchases guests might have made while in the area.
Representative Keene also asked if the Department does any promotion for tourism around the Ohio River area. Director Miller stated the Department does promote around that area. Representative Keene stated he would like to see the promotional materials used for the area.
Representative Keene stated that he loved the Passport program and asked if there was a way to track how many dollars are spent in certain places, such as the Marriott, for a loyalty type of program. Director Miller stated the Department is currently looking into that; however it involves an expense to create a loyalty program and installing software to correctly keep track of the program. Director Miller stated she hopes to see a loyalty program utilized in the future.
Representative Napier commended the Department for a great promotional presentation. He further stated that his district in Garrard County has used Youtube as a successful promotional outlet and encouraged the Department to consider that idea.
Representative Napier stated that in his opinion, Tourism and Economic Development should never be cut in funding because it gives Kentucky a positive image and it is one of the best things that can be done to benefit Kentucky. Representative Napier also stated that he would like to receive information on how to turn the Governor Owsley home in his district into a state owned site.
Representative Horlander also commented on the great job done by the Department on the presentation and their marketing strategies. He asked if a poster program had been set in place, whereas beautiful or famous spots in Kentucky could be made into nice posters people may frame and hang up in their offices or homes. He stated this would be a great form of advertising and revenue would also be generated from selling the posters.
Representative Westrom complimented the Department on a recent Halloween experience she had at Fort Boonesborough. She commended the Department on keeping the Parks industry alive. Representative Westrom asked what length of time the spaces at the Parks are rented out for and if there was a minimum or maximum amount of days. Director Miller stated that the minimum is 3 or 4 days and the maximum is 14 days for the specific Fort Boonesborough Halloween event.
Representative Rader stated that she appreciates the Parks and would share State Park staying experiences and rates in her Holiday press release.
Representative Stewart stated that he has a constituent who would like to play one hole of golf at each state Park and have his score recorded and have tourists follow suit. He stated he believed this program would be good for the parks to have competition among golfers to see who has the best score after one hole of golf at each Park has been played. The constituent stated he would like to play for a weekend stay at any lodge of his choice, or free food or a similar reward for whoever won the competition. Representative Stewart stated scores would be kept on the internet for all to keep track of.
Chairman Harris stated he was incredibly impressed with the promotion and marketing plan of the Department of Parks. The audience and committee applauded the approach. He further stated some of the State Parks have some of the best buffets around.
Representative Steele thanked Secretary Sparrow and Commissioner Van der Meer for being first responders in situations when it has been warranted.
Representative Napier stated that one equation for success is when leadership in communities is on the same page as the Cabinet. He also encouraged the Cabinet to continue to incorporate all forms of art in Kentucky’s tourism, such as bronze statues etc. Representative Napier stated a bronze statue of Carrie Nation, who is from his district, has become a topic of conversation in his hometown. He stated that tourists like to drive around and take pictures with statues and he encourages the Department to continue to consider these types of tourist attractions.
Deputy Commissioner Larry Totten then utilized a PowerPoint presentation to update the committee on Financial Results of the Department of Parks.
Senator Harris asked how the purchase of Kentucky Proud products from local producers to distribute throughout the parks is progressing. Mr. Totten stated that the information concerning Kentucky Proud products is tracked every year and he will send the information to the committee when he receives it. Senator Harris stated there was no need for follow-up, he was just curious.
Senator Harris thanked everyone for attending the meeting and again commended the Department and Secretary Sparrow on a job well done. Senator Harris adjourned the meeting at 11:50 P.M.