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Mary Cusick, director of Ohio Tourism, the state tourism bureau, gave Mohican area tourism entrepreneurs a pep talk at the first Mohican Visitors Bureau Dinner Tuesday, April 11 at Landoll's Mohican Castle.
Cusick unveiled Ohio Tourism's theme for 2017, "Ohio Find It Here," as well as explaining the methodology behind it before about 100 people, including tourism operators, other area businesspeople and some local and county elected officials.
Tourism is a huge business in Ohio, providing the state with 420,000 jobs ad $42 million in revenues in 2015. Last year's figures are available, Cusick said.
The average visitor on a day trip across the state spends $110 per day, while overnight visitors spend $354 a day, including lodging and restaurant expenditures.
"People 'find it here' in Ohio for many reasons, among them experiences," Cusick said. "Mohican offers wonderful experience offerings, experiences that can be remembered, be it zip lining, sky climbing, camping, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, running, fishing and so forth."
Cusick lavished praise on tourism operators in the Mohican area for "working together to promote not just each individual operation, but the Mohican brand. While it crosses five counties, when people think Mohican, they think this entire area and all the things you can do here, and that benefits you all."
She encouraged the businesses not to overlook day trippers. "While they spend less individually, our research shows that 80 percent of the travelers across Ohio are day trippers, so you can't ignore them. And if you show them a good time on their first trip, just maybe they'll come back and stay over next time, spending more in the process."
And while her statistics show that most visitors to Ohio are Ohioans, "We also get lots of visitors from neighboring states, particularly Michigan and Pennsylvania. Of the states in the mid-Atlantic and midwest, Ohio, and not Michigan, that spends millions on tourism promotion, holds the largest market share of tourism dollars."
She also encouraged both operators and communities to continue promoting special events. "They give the tourist a reason to come," she said.
Speaking of special events, she invited all operators to participate in Ohio Tourism Day ceremonies at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 10.
Taking the podium, Mohican Visitors Bureau Director Georgia Kauffman underscored the importance of tourism in Ashland County, noting "one in 15 jobs in the county are tourist-related." She also reported as many as 100,000 people visited the Mohican area in 2016.
Cusick praised the staff at Landoll's Castle for putting on a tremendous dinner and showing great hospitality for the event. Three recipes written by TV Chef Gordon Ramsey were served at the dinner, recipes he wrote after his visit and show produced at the castle last summer. Landoll managers reported the organization has added 25 new jobs since the Ramsay visit last summer.
Longtime Visitors Bureau Board Member Chris Tuttle of the Amish Oak Furniture Co. presented two Canoe of the Year awards, to a business, Mohican Adventures, and a volunteer group supporting tourism, Friends of the Old Mill. Accepting the awards were Lindsay Carr and Doug and Patty Shannon of Mohican Adventures, and Mark Smith and his daughter, Nicole Shantz, for the Friends of the Mill.