NORMAN — As this is the final Sunday of 2013, the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau staff is thankful for the very lucky ’13 we have experienced.
One of the biggest events of the year for us was the successful election in April that raised the hotel-motel/Transient Guest tax from 4 to 5 percent.
The city council called for that election in February, and in the subsequent weeks, we locked arms with our friends from the Norman Arts Council and the Norman Parks and Recreation Department to formulate and execute a campaign. (Since the founding of the hotel/motel tax, the monies have been split among the three entities; 50 percent to the CVB and 25 percent each to the arts and parks.) The Norman citizens passed the increase with a whopping 78 percent. Wow!
The increase was appropriated into our 2014 Fiscal Year that began July 1. Since that time, our sales staff has been able to attend more shows to promote Norman to group travel markets.
Later in the spring, the CVB celebrated its 20th anniversary with an event that celebrated our attractions and other tourism friends.
Also in 2013, ground broke on a new hotel property, and final plats and plans were approved for another lodging establishment, both of which are in the University North Park area.
Having more hotel rooms available as overflow for the nearby Embassy Suites greatly enhances our ability to promote to planners how much more room is available in Norman for their conferences, conventions, workshops, sporting events and more.
We also embarked on a couple of substantial partnerships with the city of Norman and the Norman Chamber of Commerce.
First, the CVB board voted in September to partner with the city of Norman to research, design and install temporary signage in the areas most affected by the closure of the Interstate 35 and Main Street interchange. These blue signs have been up since before Thanksgiving, intended to direct travelers to the hotels, shopping districts and restaurants close to Main Street.