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Statement from Port Wentworth Hospitality Businesses to Port Wentworth Mayor and Council

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October 02, 2020
City of Port Wentworth,

As owners and operators of businesses that depend on drawing tourists to Port Wentworth, the decision of Mayor and Council to consider outsourcing the tourism contract to an entity in another city or county was completely unacceptable. No other organizations were interested in contracting with the City of Port Wentworth. City leadership has now made the decision to allow the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce’s tourism contract to expire on September 30, 2020, which stopped all advertising and marketing efforts to attract visitors to our city. We have been advised the city plans to hold the tourism money until a new organization is finalized and awarded non-profit status. The city purposely stopped all marketing efforts to drive customers to our businesses starting October 1, 2020.

We demand that the taxes we work hard to collect in Port Wentworth continue to fund our local chamber’s destination marketing efforts, especially at a time when many of us are struggling to keep the doors open. Travel is disrupted and many travelers are choosing to stay home. Changing travel trends have impacted our bottom lines and many businesses are looking for new ways to generate revenues. The members of the chamber’s Tourism Advisory Committee are working together to drive visitors and income to Port Wentworth businesses. Continuing to fund these efforts, in critical economic times, is essential for our hospitality businesses to succeed.

We need Mayor and Council to support our chamber and our local businesses. Instead of holding onto our tourism dollars, local leaders should be focused on ways to help make our area more attractive for visitors and residents and continue to fund our chamber’s destination marketing efforts. Our committee suggests shifting focus to beautifying Highway 21 and Exit 109 and considering the programs that our chamber has proposed to the city. These include retail recruitment and working collaboratively to draw new investment to Port Wentworth. We are the very first exit in Georgia off I-95 and we have an opportunity to draw visitors to our city first. Advertising and marketing can only go so far.

We demand that the city invest in our business community by actively recruiting new restaurants and retail businesses. This will make our city more attractive and it will help us to keep money spent by Port Wentworth residents in our city by giving them options close to home. Money that should be spent in Port Wentworth is flowing to neighboring communities that have successfully recruited new businesses of all types. This committee demands that Mayor and Council work with local businesses and our local chamber to grow this city and expand our tax base. We have the most at stake in this situation.

The financial health of local businesses is on the line. The City of Port Wentworth needs to take a step back, correct their course of action immediately and sign a new, annual contract with the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce. If they do not, they are jeopardizing a lot more than the chamber’s funding.

Best Western Plus North Savannah, Nirav Sheth

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson I-95 North, Nirav Sheth

Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Savannah North I-95, Cindy Patel

Hampton Inn Savannah I-95 North, Joey Mitchell

Hester Farms, Steve & Janet Hester

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Savannah North – Port Wentworth, Kristine Hamilton

Promised Land Farm, Robert Johnson

Super 8 Port Wentworth – Savannah, Alex Poole

Sweet Tea Grille, Royce Patrick

Wingate by Wyndham Port Wentworth, Kavita Patel