TOURISM IS big business, and in Belmont County it appears to be getting even bigger.
The Belmont County Tourism Council was cast in the role of Santa Claus this week. Eugene "Doc" Householder, director of the tourism council, handed out $77,400 worth of grants to 35 county agencies, with awards ranging from $600 to $3,000.
The funding gifts assist a wide variety of organizations and entities in their respective quests. Moreover, the tourism council is geographically equitable as groups from Barnesville, Powhatan Point, St. Clairsville, Belmont, Flushing and other areas were grant recipients.
The tourism council has been doling out such grants for a decade. As a result, many agencies are much better equipped to carry out their duties much more effectively.
The funding source for the grants comes from a 3-percent "bed tax" on hotel and motel rooms in Belmont County.
That being the case, the future looks bright for the tourism council's coffers thanks to the oil and gas boom. Out-of-the area workers are entering Belmont County with great urgency.
Such an influx of population will spur motel-hotel development.
Householder notes that 900 rooms are currently available with two new hotels under construction, yielding 100 additional units.
More rooms means more money for the tourism council and the organizations it funds.
Consequently, the tourism council appears poised to be spread more wealth in future years. Householder notes that this year's allocations are a record.
It may prove a record that lasts for just one year.