FRONT ROYAL – Some members of the Front Royal-Warren County Joint Tourism Advisory Committee expressed frustration this week over the idea of the town's plan to outsource tourism to a private entity.
On Monday, the Town Council met to discuss Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick’s budget proposal that includes the outsourcing of tourism to a private entity.
This proposal coincides with the firing of former Director of Community Development and Tourism Felecia Hart. The budget also proposes eliminating town funding beginning July 1 for Visitors Center Manager Tim Smith and his four part-time employees.
“I don’t want to see our [tourism] dollars going to an outside agency to run our tourism,” Richard Runyon, general manager of the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, said at Wednesday's committee meeting.
Warren County Planning Director Taryn Logan stated in an email on Friday that the joint tourism committee was created so the Town of Front Royal and representatives of local businesses in the area had input on how the county’s tourism dollars would be spent to help enhance tourism in the area.
While the committee didn’t have a solution during the meeting, Runyon said that the Board of Supervisors and Town Council need to be involved.
“We can’t wait on this, I don’t think,” Runyon said. “It’s hot, it’s fresh. I mean, if we were to take the initiative and challenge the Town Council and Board of Supervisors to come together to work to one purpose, tourism, I think we have the infrastructure.”
Walter Mabe, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, told the committee that the first option is to bring members of town government, including Tederick and town mayor Eugene Tewalt, to the table to discuss how Warren County and the Town of Front Royal can work together to keep the marketing aspect in the area and not have it outsourced to an outside party.
“Somebody’s got to talk to the mayor and Mr. Tederick, and somebody’s got to talk to the [Chamber of Commerace] or the Board of Supervisors,” he said.
Mabe said that while he would represent the committee when presenting it to the Board of Supervisors and the town government, it would require both parties to agree to sit down to talk over the solution.
“I’ll be the first to tell you that it just won’t happen as fast as you want it to,” he said. “I can’t put a timeline on it because we don’t know what type of resistance we’re going to get from the other side. I’m happy to help.”
The committee decided to set another meeting, tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 26, to decide on the direction the committee wants to go in.