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More tourism revenue expected with new hotel, more under construction
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 29, 2010) — Most of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau’s money to promote area attractions comes from a transient guest tax on people who stay in area hotels, so reports on hotel revenue and improvements are often a part of the organization’s monthly board meetings.

Those revenues have continued to increase despite the national economic downturn, and Tourism Director Beth Wiles said Thursday that she expects the construction of several new hotels will only increase the organization’s funds.

One new hotel, the new Holiday Inn on Highway Z in St. Robert owned by Tourism Board member Bruce Farris, has opened and the old Holiday Inn Express was converted to a Quality Inn, Wiles said.

Responding to questions from board members, Wiles said another new hotel on St. Robert Boulevard will be an extended-stay facility owned by a man from Branson.

“If you’ve been down the boulevard down by the Security Bank area, you’ll see the groundbreaking and he’s actually got some framing up now for Value Place, another hotel property,” Wiles said.

Existing hotels are also being recognized for improvements or simply continuing good service, Wiles said.

“I wanted to make mention that the Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association was held last month and that Fort Leonard Wood Hotels, the Ehrhardt Properties, received awards for hotelier of the year, or Steve did, and the hotels received the green certificates for their properties. That was quite an honor,” Wiles said, referring to owner Steve Ehrhardt.

While it wasn’t mentioned in the meeting, Ehrhardt Properties is also rebuilding the old Ramada Inn as a discount hotel and a different developer is in the planning stages for a new hotel in Waynesville.

Wiles also reported on several recreational developments that may be of interest to both short-term and long-term hotel guests.

“St. Robert is making some additions over in the park for their trails in the pond,” Wiles said, noting that they will include walking trails off Plattner Avenue and a small golf course in the area. A new medical care center is also going into back side of the St. Robert Municipal Center for active-duty personnel and families, she said, which could be important for families of military personnel who are assigned to Fort Leonard Wood for temporary duty and who live for a few months in extended-stay facilities off-post. The city of Waynesville is planning a possible midweek farmers market as well as the existing Saturday farmer’s market, she said.

Wiles said a state program to help local communities market themselves wasn’t cut back as badly as had been feared, despite the state’s budget crisis.

“The Division of Tourism did receive some budget cuts as well as everybody else throughout the state. They were able to manipulate some funds to save the co-op marketing program where with the state you can apply for grant money for matching funds,” Wiles said. “I did want to give kudos to Sen. Frank Barnitz for his support. He fought for us up there in fighting to keep that co-op program going, and I have sent a thank-you letter to him for that.”

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