After surprisingly good 2021, Miami County hopes for events boost this summer

TROY – Miami County’s Visitors and Convention Bureau, seeing a financial turnaround following the travel slowdowns of COVID-19, hopes to get even more positive news with return of events such as Troy’s Strawberry Festival.

The bureau in 2021 had a “really good year, considering what we were still dealing with,” Executive Director Leiann Stewart told the county commissioners during a recent update report.

The bureau ended last year with a profit of $183,135, a turnaround from 2020 when a negative balance of $75,450 was attributed to shutdowns and COVID-19.

The bureau gets most of its income from the county’s 3 percent lodging tax. The tax brought in $279,180 in 2020 then rebounded to $463,461 last year. Part of that increase came from the county’s newest hotel, the Home2Suites, which opened in August 2020 in Troy, and generated $84,000 in lodging tax revenue in 2021.

The bureau in 2021 also received $83,000 from the employee retention credit paid due to COVID-19.

“We are excited about 2022 and being able to invest dollars back into the promotions and marketing for Miami County,” Stewart said.

The bureau budget for marketing and promotions was increased by 35 percent this year with the focus on regional, state and surrounding states promotions.

“The road trip is still what we are going to see this year. People are going to stay closer to home,” Stewart said. “With gas prices, we are going to see that even more.”

Among 2021 accomplishments for the bureau was a new video promoting outdoor recreation in the downtown areas, she said.

For the first time, the bureau contracted with four influencers around state to market the area and this year is contracting with four others.

“The influencers we work with typically are travel and tourism focused with a large following on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, and they have all been based in Ohio so far,” Stewart said. “Sometimes these influencers come in for the day and others stay overnight. We create an itinerary for them of places, restaurants and shops we’d like them to visit or activities for them do while here. They will post about it on their social media while here as well as when they go home and blog about their experience here on their website.”

The return of the Troy Strawberry Festival for the first time since 2020 is expected to draw visitors as are several other activities old and new, such as the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure’s return in June and the Tour de Donut in August, Stewart said.

New Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, or DORAs, are now active in both downtown Troy and Piqua. A DORA previously was introduced in downtown Tipp City.

Among new attractions the bureau thinks will help with visitors are renovations of the John Johnston Home at the Johnston Farm near Piqua, relocation to Troy of Crafted and Cured, the planned reuse of the Benkin building in downtown Tipp City as a pizzeria with arcade games and the opening of the county Park District’s first indoor event venture, Heritage Hall near Troy.

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