Museums, arts councils, historical societies, trail and way-finding organizations, and the boards of annual fairs, festivals, and special one-time events in the Endless Mountains region have benefited since 2004 from nearly $1 million in Room Tax Grants. The Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau (EMVB) has announced that applications for 2015 are now available and the deadline for submission of the completed forms is Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.
The three percent room tax levied on guests staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties and collected by the state is returned to EMVB for redistribution to the respective counties.
“Thirty percent goes into the Room Tax Grant Program,” EMVB Executive Director Jean Ruhf explained. That amount is then divided among the participating counties based on the respective number of rooms available.
“It’s very proportional to what is taken in in room tax by each county,” Ruhf continued. In other words, “Bradford County dollars stay in Bradford County, and so on.” EMVB is the designated tourism agency for the four-county Endless Mountains region.
It is the job of Ruhf and her staff to make the applications available, provide explanations of the forms as necessary, and to coordinate the returned applications for the final process, which is conducted by a Room Tax Committee in each county.
“We oversee the program to make sure that all of the grant applications are in line with Pennsylvania legislation regarding the room tax program,” Ruhf related.
EMVB can reject applications that do not meet the guidelines or do not include all necessary information. It is up to each county, however, to determine which qualifying non-profit organizations receive funding, as the requests for grants always exceed the amount of money available. Each county’s Room Tax Committee, Ruhf added, is structured differently and makes decisions with no further involvement from EMVB.
Visitors bureaus across the state operate independently of each other and are designed to promote their respective regions from the outside. EMVB’s mission is to attract guests to the area, which is achieved via advertising and participation by the agency’s staff in numerous trade shows and events where EMVB’s annual Calendar of Events and addition literature is distributed.
To promote themselves within the Endless Mountains, grant recipients count on the generosity of local publications and other media that routinely extend air time and print space to promote nonprofit facilities and events for the benefit of the community.
Bringing people to the Endless Mountains from outside the area is a different matter, however, and previous applicants have successfully used the funds for the marketing of cultural, historical, and recreational projects and events to potential visitors from surrounding states and other parts of the Commonwealth.
The growing number of hotels in the region in recent years has generated additional room tax, and that is good news to Ruhf and organizations applying for the grants. To acknowledge the important role that they play in the program, Ruhf noted, EMVB extends a free membership to all hotels and bed and breakfasts that pay room tax.
The Room Tax Grant Program has been streamlined to a one-time per year process. The relevance of a designated project to the promotion of tourism in the area is a key factor in determining whether or not the grant is ultimately awarded.
The application for the 2015 tourism season is available under the Media tab at www.EndlessMountains.org. Applications may also be obtained by stopping by the Endless Mountains Visitors Center at 5405 State Route 6 west of Tunkhannock, calling 570-836-5431 or 800-769-8999 or emailing email@example.com. Applications must be postmarked no later than Thursday, Sept. 25 to qualify.