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JAMESTOWN, N.Y.: –The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development encourages applications for the 2023 3% Tourism Product Development Grant Program. Interested groups or organizations have until October 1, 2022 to submit applications.

Applications are available online at https://bit.ly/CHQTourismGrants2023. Hard copies of the application are also available at the offices of the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development located at 201 West Third Street, Suite 115, in Jamestown, N.Y., during normal business hours.

The Tourism Product Development Grant Program is funded through the County’s 5% occupancy or “bed tax” for the rental of lodging units within the County. Three-fifths (3%) of the revenue that is generated from this tax is utilized to increase tourism, conventions, trade shows, special events, and other directly related or supporting activities including businesses in the county. The two-fifths (2%) occupancy tax is utilized solely for the enhancement and protection of lakes and streams in Chautauqua County. A portion of the 3% occupancy tax is intended to provide grants for projects that will achieve and/or support special tourism product and event development initiatives.

Through this grant program, the County seeks to assist in catalyzing opportunities that promote or support the development of specific themes or significant events and attractions that enhance the level of visitor experience, and ultimately the number of visitors, to the County.

“Seeing the actual results of this program proves that it develops, enhances, and strengthens our tourism and hospitality sectors here in Chautauqua County,” said Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development. “Unlike other destinations across the U.S. and New York State, our tourism data proves we have significantly bounced back during this COVID-19 pandemic recovery period. The next round of funded projects will continue to enhance infrastructure and drive visitation to our county.”

After tourism declined in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, the 2021 occupancy tax revenues exceeded expectations by nearly 40% with revenues exceeding budget by more than $500,000. Revenues exceeded 2019 levels, before the pandemic, by 5.4%.

Geise stated, “We can point to this grant as being one of the strategic tools we use to help evolve, pivot, and maintain sustainability in tourism. Similar to national industry trends, our well-known natural spaces, such as lakes, streams, and trails, are pulling visitors and new residents to the area. Without the proper and attractive infrastructure that supports eco-tourism, outdoor recreation, and rural vacationing, we would not be able to take full advantage of our assets.”

According to recent travel industry studies, in addition to eco-tourism, wellness activities or wellness-centric travel was a priority. Wellness can be immersive cultural experiences, mental, physical, or spiritual growth such as lifelong learning opportunities, reunions of families and friends, and food and beverage experiences.

“Chautauqua County already has unique tourism attractions that we know is what travelers are looking for; however, we continually seek to develop and improve upon our offerings to promote new and repeat visitations,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. “We encourage applications that promote new or enhanced attractions, unique events, and projects that support tourism aspects of the County Comprehensive Plan, County Greenways Plan, and the recently completed Economic Development Strategic Plan.”

Programs and initiatives should help create destination awareness of Chautauqua County as a place to visit and/or improve the likelihood of repeat visits to the area. A key concern for the future of Chautauqua County’s tourism industry is to create and promote products and experiences that will attract more visitors, particularly for overnight visits and in the pre- and post-summer seasons. Grant funds are not intended for facility maintenance or long-term operational costs; they are intended to be developmental in nature. Applications for the 3% Tourism Product Development Grant Program may be submitted by various groups and organizations, including: not-for-profits, governments, businesses/corporations, public or private schools, and all landowners of Chautauqua County.

For more information, please contact Nate Aldrich at (716) 363-3672 or aldrichn@chqgov.com .