The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously to merge the Convention and Visitors Bureau into the county's Department of Parks and Recreation as the Office of Tourism.
The merger comes after the board's internal audit of the CVB revealed specific risk factors with the organizational structure of the CVB. High risk factors included the governance of the CVB, a memorandum of understanding that had expired in 2013, and finance/accounting practices. Moderate risk factors included purchasing guidelines and monitoring and evaluating contractors.
The CVB has had success in marketing Prince William County as a tourism destination and even recently earned its accreditation as a destination marketing organization. The merger keeps the CVB staff in place, and addresses the issue of governance by eliminating the agreement, consolidating accountability so that one organization is now responsible for tourism in the county, and allowing more staff time to be devoted to specific tourism initiatives instead of administrative issues. The merger also creates a net savings in transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues of $191,400, which will be applied to further tourism initiatives.
"This past year, much success has occurred," said Rojan Robotham, the current vice chair of the CVB Board. "The… team has achieved national accreditation… won a national award for video content marketing and a state award from the Virginia Convention of Visitor's Bureau for sales manager of the year…. However, I believe that the new organizational construct will enable Ann Marie and her team to accomplish even more than we did this past year. I continue to remain excited about the future of Prince William County being a top destination and look forward to the team's continued success under this new organizational structure."
The Office of Tourism will receive guidance from a Tourism Advisory Board comprised of members of the tourism industry. This will leverage the private sector resources and expertise to make certain Prince William County continues to address the needs of the county's tourism industry.
With the Board's authorization of the merger, county staff will begin work with the CVB to wind down their current operations, transfer the positions to the Department of Parks and Recreation, and create a tourism industry advisory board.
A complete copy of the Board of Supervisor's agenda item and the full audit report is available on the county's website.