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TourismOhio Advisory Board lacking

Tom Jackson • Mar 18, 2014 at 8:32 AM

A state board that’s drawing up Ohio’s marketing campaign for the next few years doesn’t have any members from the Sandusky and Port Clinton areas.


The absence of local officials on the Tourism Ohio Advisory Board has caught the attention of local officials, who say that while the board has excellent members, it should include someone who represents a region that boasts tourist attractions such as Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay.

The board was set up a few months ago to assist the new tourism director, Mary Cusick, in developing a new brand for Ohio’s tourism efforts.

Gov. John Kasich appoints the members of the board. If he agreed that north-central Ohio needs representation, he could appoint someone as early as September, when the first vacancy opens up.

Larry Fletcher, executive director of Ottawa County’s tourism bureau, applied to be on the board but apparently didn’t make the final cut this time.

“I know some of the people on the board. I’m happy with the people that I know” Fletcher said.

Various tourism organizations are well represented on the board, he said.

“I don’t know that they were necessarily looking to have all geographic regions of the state,” he said. “I hope we can put somebody in place later this year”

State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, hopes so, too, and he has a candidate in mind: Larry Fletcher.

“I am concerned that there should be representation from our region on the tourism council. Hopefully that will be favorably corrected in September,” Gardner said.

“Larry Fletcher would be an outstanding member. I’m for Larry Fletcher today, I’m for Larry Fletcher in September. That will certainly be my recommendation,” Gardner said. There are other good candidates from the region, too, he added.

Gardner noted that Melinda Huntley, a native of our area, is executive director of the Ohio Travel Association, so it’s not as if the region isn’t represented.

Kasich’s spokesman, Rob Nichols, said the governor’s focus is on getting the best.

“We would encourage anyone who is interested in serving on this board to apply,” Nichols said. “But as with all board and commission picks, our highest concern is getting the best and brightest”

Joan Van Offeren, executive director of Erie County’s visitor bureau, said she agrees with Fletcher that the tourism board has excellent members. Probably the governor had five times as many applicants as positions, Van Offeren said.

“There are probably decisions that are made that we can’t control,” she said. “That just goes with government type processes. I would like to have somebody who represented specifically from our region”

TourismOhio Advisory Board members

Here are the members of the TourismOhio Advisory board and their affiliations:

•John Burroughs, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and Wild Zipline Safari

•Ellen Grinsfelder, Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls

•Todd Mesek, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

•Dan Sullivan, HNS Sports Group (Memorial Tournament and President’s Cup)

•Karen F. Maier, Frisch’s Restaurants

•Brian Ross, Experience Columbus

•Gregory Scheid, Kings Island

•John Mahaney Jr., Council of Retail Merchants

•Dan Young, Young’s Dairy

•John Minor, JobsOhio

•Mary Cusick, TourismOhio

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