Price Johnson to head tourism committee

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson has been elected as chairwoman of the Island County 2 percent Joint Tourism Committee.

Price Johnson was selected for the post at the committee’s monthly meeting Jan. 5 in Oak Harbor.

Also elected to a one-year term are Chet Ross, vice chairman; Joanne Lechner, secretary; and Dianne Binder, treasurer.

According to the committee, beginning this year, an elected public official must chair the full tourism committee in order to comply with the new interlocal agreement and to meet state government requirements. The committee has 18 members and was founded in 2004.

Representing Camano Island on the committee are Melanie Ford-Bissey, Camano Island Lodging and Karen Daum, Camano Island Chamber of Commerce.

Representing Oak Harbor and North Whidbey are Jim Campbell, city of Oak Harbor, Jill Johnson, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce and Zane Platt, Oak Harbor Lodging.

Representing Coupeville and Central Whidbey are Dianne Binder, town of Coupeville, Marshall Bronson, Coupeville Lodging, Lynda Eccles, Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce and Mitch Richards, Unincorporated Coupeville Lodging.

Representing Langley and South Whidbey are Ross, Freeland Chamber of Commerce, Sherry Jennings, Langley Chamber of Commerce, Gary Gabelein, Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Jim Pinsiero, Langley Lodging, and Lechner, Unincorporated South Whidbey Lodging.

Also on the committee is Ron Nelson, Island County Economic Development Council.

Two positions are currently vacant, one representing Unincorporated North Whidbey Lodging and one representing the city of Langley.

The committee is funded solely from lodging taxes which are paid by overnight visitors to Island County.

At the committee's last meeting, Binder reported that lodging tax collections are up 15 percent from where they were one year ago. Sherrye Wyatt, the committee’s public relations and marketing manager, said the increase is significant since many innkeepers actually reduced their 2011 room rates in order to stay competitive.

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