ROSSFORD — After plummeting during the pandemic, the Rossford hotel lodging tax revenues have come roaring back and reached a new high in 2022.
The tax is important to both the city general fund but also for funding the Rossford Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Executive Director Beth Genson at Monday’s council meeting. The RCVB is a not-for-profit marketing organization whose mission is to create opportunities to promote Rossford.
“This year was a much better year. Things are coming back around,” Genson said. “We have new ownership of some of the hotels, who were not paying their lodging tax, which is great.”
The hotel lodging tax was first collected in 2011, during which $100,911 was collected. In 2019 that number had increased to $154,328. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the collections plummeted to $94,733. Collections increased in 2021 to $110,075, followed by the jump in 2022 to $172,060.
Genson pointed out that their focus on event attendance and economic impact has produced a new synergistic vigor to the economic atmosphere in the city.
There were four major drivers in the RCVB focus: Stroll the Street, Total Sports tournaments, bus tour groups and the Walleye Roundup.
The largest economic impact came from the Total Sports tournaments. Manager Tracy Pappas, who is also the board chair for the RCVB, also credited the sports dome. There were an estimated 63,000 visitors from the various events, generating $1.2 million in hotel revenues. She added that the total economic impact was at least $4.4 million, according to Destination Toledo.
There were more than 40 bus tour groups, which generated $210,000, Stroll the Street had more than 6,000 visitors and generated $180,000 and the Walleye Roundup had 84 participants with more than 200 audience members, which generated more than $64,000.
Next year’s revenue from the walleye tournament will have to be found from another part of the budget.
The annual spring Walleye Roundup has been canceled for 2023, for several reasons, most prominently because of a scandal that has hit the popular fishing sport.
“It’s just been postponed a year, until we reorganize it,” Mayor Neil MacKinnon III said. “We traditionally have it early in the season. It takes about a year to organize the event and the gentleman who had been organizing it passed away a couple years ago. Due to the cheating scandal, the industry, the walleye tournaments, is in flux right now. So we thought we would take this time to reorganize it and make it bigger and better than it has ever been.”
The two winners of last year’s tournament hit a winning spree that raised some eyebrows. It was found that the two men were allegedly stuffing the fish with fillets and fishing weights. MacKinnon said that the national organization is changing the rules.
“Our goal is really to have the largest and most popular walleye tournament, not only on the Great Lakes, but on planet Earth,” MacKinnon said. “We’re reacting to the industry, so whatever they do with the rules, we will follow.”
MacKinnon’s vision is to remake the contest to be an event for the community.
“We want the weigh-ins to consist of food trucks, live music, beer gardens and activities for kids. We want to make it into more than just 30 teams fishing,” MacKinnon said.
He would like to see the tournament size doubled, but to also have activities surrounding the annual contest.
“Maybe we can borrow Spike and Cattrick, the two mascots from the Toledo Walleye? Maybe they would want to come over and hang out. It’s all in good fun and tongue in cheek,” MacKinnon said about the potential for the future of the fishing tournament.
In addition to the events, there was also a new convention and visitors center website and several new publications, all of which added to the increased revenues.
Genson suggested to the council that the old Indian Motorcycle space could be repurposed. She said that the 2.5 acres location might make a good event venue, a brewery or a restaurant.