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City of Port Wentworth issues new statement on RFP's for tourism campaign contract

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October 07, 2020
PORT WENTWORTH, GA — WEDNESDAY, OCT. 7, 2020 – The Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce and the Port Wentworth Tourism Committee appreciate all efforts by our hospitality businesses, chamber members, community partners, and citizens to address concerns raised by the non-renewal of the chamber's tourism marketing contract with the city. The abrupt end to all destination marketing efforts to attract visitors to our city will impact our hospitality businesses at a time when they need support the most.
 
Port Wentworth hotels, motels, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on tourism dollars to thrive have created a unified statement to the City of Port Wentworth. The message is clear. By abandoning all tourism marketing efforts and cutting ties with our chamber of commerce, you are risking more than the chamber losing the tourism contract, you are risking the financial health of local businesses. These businesses are currently without any agency promoting Port Wentworth or their businesses. READ HERE
 
As of October 5, 2020, the City of Port Wentworth posted a new press release on the city website titled RFP's for Tourism Campaign Contract. The press release does not state that the city is opening up another request for proposal for the tourism marketing campaign, but it does state Mayor Norton is recommending offering another Request for Proposal (RFP) for the tourism campaign contract. No other details on the upcoming process were provided. READ HERE
 
The city's press release did include intellectual property and content pulled directly from Port Wentworth Chamber marketing materials. This content included the main brand message crafted by the chamber and its partners over the years to build comprehensive, engaging, and effective marketing campaigns that have increased visitation, overnight stays, and investment to Port Wentworth.
 
Beginning October 1, 2020, the city ended the relationship with the chamber to market the city as a tourism destination. This content used by the city in the press release is intellectual property of the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce and is not licensed for use or reproduction by any other person or entity other than the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce. This content is used to market and attract chamber members, new business investment, and other areas of operation in addition to tourism promotion.
 
This move by the city does send a message to the public and to the business community. There is hope for the chamber and the many businesses and hospitality partners that this organization represents.
 
The city included key marketing messages and strategies, used in chamber printed publications, online, and in digital campaigns in their press release announcing their intent to solicit other 501(c)6 organizations if another RFP is opened. These strategic and well crafted marketing messages were developed by the chamber and its partners. Any reasonable person would conclude that the city views the tourism marketing efforts of the chamber as being effective if it chooses to include chamber created marketing messages in an official press release about tourism promotion.
 
The hotels, motels, restaurants, and other businesses that have benefitted from the chamber's marketing efforts are hopeful that the city will reopen the lines of communication between chamber leadership and the city. The chamber has effectively marketed Port Wentworth to tourists and this is proven in the growth of the hotel/motel tax dollars over the years that the Port Wentworth Chamber served Port Wentworth as the official Destination Marketing Organization.
 
The city is also moving forward with projects that the chamber has been involved in for years and this was discussed by city elected officials and staff at the public city workshop on October 6, 2020. WATCH CITY WORKSHOP HERE The chamber and the city began working on a new concept to build a SportsPlex in 2007 to provide state-of-the-art recreation facilities for residents. The city tasked the chamber with overseeing a feasibility study on the proposed project to determine if building a facility to attract travel ball teams would be profitable. The study concluded that a project would be beneficial to the city by attracting out-of-town visitors to Port Wentworth. These visitors would infuse our local economy by overnight stays in our hotels and purchasing food, gas, and other items at our local stores. This community project would be an economic driver that would benefit both the citizens and businesses of Port Wentworth while creating another opportunity to attract visitors.
 
The chamber has also proposed a public-private partnership with the city to build a permanent shared space for chamber offices, a larger visitors center, and additional space for the city. Our proposal has been denied every year. Now that the city has ended the tourism contract with the Port Wentworth Chamber, city leaders are proposing building a new city complex to house several city departments and office space for a "chamber of commerce" on the same property that the chamber proposed building a visitors center beginning in 2009. VIEW PREVIOUS VISITORS CENTER PROPOSALS The fact that the city is discussing a new city complex to include space for a "chamber," is progress. Our organization entered into a good faith agreement with the city to collect and house historical artifacts, documentation, and oral histories. The chamber continues to house these important pieces until a time when the city or another entity chooses to move forward with a permanent location to display these items for public viewing and enjoyment.
 
The chamber continues to have an open line of communication and is hopeful that city leadership will communicate with the chamber and our hospitality businesses.
Contact:
PW Chamber
info@visitportwentworth.com, (912) 965-1999