Jan 7, 2013

What's with the Erie Shores and Islands signs?

Dear Mailbag, My question is about the large Shores & Islands signs on the Ohio 2 exits. What a waste of taxpayer dollars. It is also my understanding that Erie County and Ottawa County are in some kind of agreement to share resources. Why do we need two bureaus? Erie County seems to be highlighted more prevalently in the visitor's guide. — Cindy from Port Clinton

You have a couple questions here, Cindy, so I'll try to tackle one at a time.

First, the Shores & Islands signs were paid for with bed tax money that is earmarked for the visitor's bureaus. It is technically "taxpayer" money, but most of those taxpayers are tourists from out-of-town who are staying at local hotels and motels. The money is pre-designated for the promotion of tourism in the area, so it's not being taken away from local infrastructure or services. The folks at Shores & Islands identified the need for the signs as a benefit for tourists who can now see, big and clear, that they've arrived at the right place when they get off the highway.

Second, Erie Shores and Islands West, in Ottawa County, and Erie Shores and Islands East, in Erie County, do have a working relationship and coordinated branding. Each county funds its own tourism bureau through bed taxes, but when people come to visit the area they have no reason to differentiate whether they are in Erie County or Ottawa County — they've come to enjoy the local attractions, lakeshore and the islands. So, it makes sense for the two tourism bureaus to join forces in promoting the area.

As far as that highlights in the annual visitor's guide, I can't say I agree that Erie County gets preferential play. Charter boat fishing, the Marblehead Lighthouse, African Safari and, of course, South and Middle Bass Islands play prominently in the guides each year. The point is Erie and Ottawa counties aren't in competition with one another. They're wisely working together to appeal to a variety of interests to keep visitors coming to our area.

And, in the end, more visitors mean a better economy for all of us.

The Mailbag is a daily feature on SanduskyRegister.com. Every weekday at noon, we will post one question-and-answer from a resident. To ask a question, send a letter to The Mailbag at 314 W. Market St., or e-mail mailbag@sanduskyregister.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. “John from Decatur Street."



So as long as the "taxpayer" money comes from the tourists, we can spend it on whatever foolish things we want??? Do the tourists really need a "big clear" sign that they got off at the right exit?


FYI - by state law the bed tax funds that go to the Vistors Bureau must be used for the promotion of tourism. The signs aren't supposed to be of value to the locals they are meant for the visitors to the area. Most of these visitors know the Erie Shores and Island logo from TV ads, website contact or the 100,000's of thousands of visitor guides that are mailed out each year.


The signs are attractive and are an important part of marketing and branding. It's not about "need." Do tourists "need" a fancy color brochure? Why not mail a two-sided sheet, black-and-white, with a single-spaced typed list of local attractions? Think of the savings!

Seeing the usefulness of the sign is not even a stretch. I hope tourism officials warn grumpy locals if they really think outside the box.


I'm personally all for the signs. I think they're attractive and tastefully done. My hope is that the landscaping surrounding these structures expands to more than just a few feet on all sides. Nothing screams "cheap" like pretty flowers and shrubs in an area covered with weeds and dead grass. I'll even donate if that's what it takes!!!


I agree... The signs look good and are tastefully done.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

As a local I have to say I rather enjoy the signs. Perhaps with a bit of bias as I do own a business that sees an increase in sales/attendance over the summer. But they are aesthetically pleasing and is, if absolutely nothing else, a physical symbol of the effort we are putting into our county. That show of effort really reverberates and allows people to gather around it seeing it as a part of a larger process that they can be excited about participating in. If that psychology and symbolism didn't work, I would be out of business as who "needs" comics and board games? It is the same kind of structure that I want to help foster for (specifically) downtown Sandusky.


QUESTION::: Isn't the portion of the bed tax referred to in this article left over from the bed tax ear-marked for the RT. 250 widening/improvements??? The bed tax was set to expire and the County Commissioners voted to indefinately extend 1% for use by Erie Shores and Islands to promote Erie County tourism.

I agree with many of the posters here. If I'm a tourist coming from out of town or state, Iv'e pre-investigated and planned where I'm going. I don't needa welcoming sign to light my way.

If ESI continues to use the 1% tax on such non-essentials, the County Commissioners need either terminate the tax or find a better use-roads perhaps


Signs like that are influential in creating excitement and identifying the area as a tourist destination. To a lesser degree, it has a similar effect to the Hollywood sign or the beach ball water tower in Pensacola. I support any measure that will encourage more tourists, and the dollars that come with them, into the Erie County economy.

BW1's picture

This is a marketing strategy. Commenters need to realize that, if their comment comprises complete sentences and properly spelled words, they are not in the target audience for most advertising and marketing. We live in a nation of magpies, and flash is incredibly effective at getting them to open their wallets.


I like the signs. I think that they are attractive for a area like this that people travel to for Cedar Point and others. Why wouldn't you have a sign?? I think its great!!! Plus it makes the city look better FFS!