Is having another Public beach destination something tourists and local citizens want?
In conversations with District One Supervisor Granville Hogg, he posed the question, “Would the Tourism Commission, Northampton County Board of Supervisors, Lodging Facilities, Restaurant Facilities, Chamber of Commerce within Northampton County be willing to support the acquisition of Bay Front property for another Public Beach?”
Northampton County increased their Transiency Occupancy Tax (TOT) from two percent to five percent in 2007. According to state code, an additional three percent of that revenue must be invested in tourism. 40% of the TOT goes to the general fund, 45 % goes to the commission and 15% funds the tourism grant program. Currently, this totals $80,000.
Since there is the requirement to spend the additional Transient Occupancy Tax on initiatives that will increase Tourism, is providing an additional beach area the asset that will bring the greatest return to Northampton County (approx $45,000/year paid by visitors/tourists)?
“When in the Tourism business, there is requirement to provide a destination where tourists can spend money. Is having a beach a destination something tourists and local citizens want?” – Granville Hogg.
According to Hogg, if Northampton is going to be in the tourism business, it needs to find ways to nurture it, and generate more funds for the county. “We need to get input from those entities that generate the TOT. Representatives of lodging properties, Restaurants, and “Local” Chamber Members in order to verify and comply with Code,” Hogg said.
Thus far, the following businesses have received 2017 Northampton County grant awards:
Cape Charles Life Jacket Loaner Station
Town of Cape Charles $2,004
Free Shakespeare in the Park: Hamlet
Town of Exmore $3,500
Harbor for the Arts Summer Festival
Citizens for Central Park (Cape Charles) $2,000
Little Public Libraries
Cape Charles Memorial Library Friends $500
Cape Charles Farmers Market
Cape Charles Historical Society $1,500
18th Annual Juneteenth Festival
NAACP Northampton County Branch $2,000
Documentary Series at Palace Theatre
Arts Enter Cape Charles Repetitive $1,000
Between the Waters Bike Tour
Festive Fridays Cape Charles
Cape Charles Business Assoc. Repetitive $5,000
Art Rocks the Inns
Cape Charles B&B Assoc. $1,000
Historic Cape Charles Cookie Trail
Cape Charles B&B Assoc. $500
ESO Signs and Facade
Eastern Shore’s Own, Inc. $3,000
Experimental Film Virginia/Art Soaked Weekends
Global Exchange Arts Roundtable, Inc. (GEAR) Repetitive $5,000
2.5 Mile Bike Trail Improvement Project
E. S. of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge $4,000
How is this working?
Eastern Shore of Virginia businesses featured prominently in the Virginia Living 2017 Best of Virginia/Eastern Region list:
* Best Art Gallery: 3rd Place, Lemon Tree Gallery & Studio, Cape Charles
* Best Equestrian Event: 1st Place, Annual Pony Round-Up and Swim, Chincoteague
* Best Golf Course: 1st Place, Bay Creek Resort & Club, Cape Charles
* Best Local Ice Cream Shop: 1st Place, Brown Dog Ice Cream, Cape Charles
* Best Consignment Shop: 1st Place, Periwinkle, Cape Charles
While there have been successes, Hogg thinks the county can do more.
“What tourism activities fulfill the intent of the Code of Virginia?” Hogg said. “How is this measured? We need to attract even more travelers to the locality, increase occupancy at lodging properties, and generate tourism revenues to help fund the many needs of Northampton County. We have available Bay Front property; is that an area we need to explore as a way to expand our tourism footprint?”