BY TOM BUSSELBERG
BOUNTIFUL - The Davis Area Convention & Visitors Bureau "..did exactly what I envisioned when I had anything to do with it," according to former county commissioner Dannie McConkie, who served through 2006.
McConkie made those comments when discussing the demise of the CVB, effective Dec. 31 of last year.
That function, as he saw it when helping found the organization in late October of 2003, was "…to bring attention and business into Davis County."
He said its aim was further to provide a stimulus, particularly for the small businesses - restaurants and others - that were located in the county.
Thanks to the CVB, Davis County became known to a lot of people, McConkie said.
"It was amazing to me, and a lot of other elected county officials who I interacted with, that they had no idea where it (Davis County) was," he said.
Promotion of the Davis Conference Center, booking events there, and to fill hotel rooms, was the primary function of the CVB, one county official said, as noted by McConkie.
"That was part of it, but not the primary assignment," as McConkie said he understood the CVB's role.
"The primary assignment was to get the 15 cities identified in peoples' minds, to bring people to the Conference Center, and to provide customers for those small businesses," he said.
New businesses came to the area around the Conference Center, including well over a dozen restaurants, as noted by Layton City economic development officials in the past.
Several additional hotels also were built in that vicinity, as well.
"Hundreds and hundreds of new jobs were created. I felt like the CVB was doing what it should do," McConkie said.
He questioned the findings of a county-funded study that tried to determine if sufficient return-on-investment was being generated by the CVB.
In its final year, the CVB received nearly $1 million in county and state tourism-tax funding to fund operations.
"People spend millions in tax dollars. It rolls through a community five to six times," benefiting various businesses, McConkie said.
Over the years, tourism-related taxes "…continues to go up," said County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.
The lion's share, or more than two-thirds of taxes, are generated from restaurant sales. Hotels make up most of the rest, with vehicle rental only 1-2 percent.
About $4.8 million was generated to the county, alone, from those sources in 2013. In the so-called pre-recession years of 2007 and 2008, $4,013,000 came in the first year and $4.4 million in 2008. It dropped to $4.2 million in 2009.
"It's been fairly constant over the last three years," Rawlings said of tourism tax revenues.
"It's going to be hard to keep convention and other event numbers up, plus assist the hotels as much in filling rooms," McConkie said.
"By not having Barbara (Riddle, CVB CEO) and all of those other hard-working people, it's not going to be as successful," he predicted.
"The county has responsibility to answer to their own music," McConkie said adding, "The three commissioners have every right to do whatever they decide to do."