Galesburg tourism bureau breaking off from Chamber of Commerce

With the new year will come to a new system of organization for Galesburg tourism efforts.

Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard says The Galesburg Convention and Visitors Bureau will become an entity separate from the Galesburg-Area Chamber of Commerce as of January 1, becoming the Galesburg Tourism and Visitors Bureau.

He feels it became an ideal time, as there was already an opening for Tourism Director when Chamber Director Jessica Linder announced her resignation in August.

He says it’s pretty unusual for a tourism bureau to operate the way Galesburg’s has.

“And in the State of Illinois, this is the only Chamber of Commerce that operates the tourism bureau. And today, we were suggesting that the Chamber would operate it [and] the State would not approve it.”

Pritchard says his chief criticism about the GCVB since he took office has been their lack of a marketing plan.

He says even though there’s been some growth of local tourism, that some of that can come irrespective of any sort of plan.

“Basically, the objective is to get people to come to our city and spend money in some nature whether it’s staying at a hotel or eating at a restaurant. People who wouldn’t have come here otherwise.”

Pritchard adds that sometimes the objectives of a chamber of commerce are not necessarily the same as a tourism bureau.

As they search for a leader for the new leader for the Galesburg Tourism and Visitors Bureau, Pritchard would like to see someone who can provide financial oversight, has experience executing a marketing plan, and particularly has experience with destination marketing.

The new Tourism board that was recently approved by the City Council is essentially the same makeup of the current Tourism Advisory Council.

The city puts in about $190,000 annually towards tourism, taken from hotel/motel tax receipts. That figure will not change in this new arrangement.

Pritchard says ideally the next tourism director will have experience with financial oversight, and executing a marketing strategy designed to enhance the number of visitors to a community.

Ideally but not likely, he says the city would like to hire a tourism director by the end of the year.