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What’s Up Belmont County: Tourism update

Editor’s note: Today we welcome a new columnist to our Sunday opinion pages — Barbara Ballint, executive director of the Belmont County Tourism Council.

Who We Are

The Belmont County Tourism office markets attractions and events in Belmont County.

We promote the smallest of street fairs to the largest festivals in the county. We market our museums and historic landmarks, as well as “only in” Belmont County shops and restaurants.

The staff of four works diligently to elevate Belmont County as a great place to visit and live!

The office is in the Ohio Valley Mall, located along Interstate 70 just outside St. Clairsville.

Belmont County Tourism Council Inc. is a nonprofit organization funded by the 3 percent lodging tax implemented by the county commissioners. Each year the staff attends travel shows and expos promoting the county.

Last year Belmont County was represented at four travel shows and distributed over 3,000 brochures. It always amazed me how so many from out of the area have connections to Belmont County, Ohio.

The tourism council also offers the GAP Grant. Grants are distributed to qualified applicants, which include nonprofits in the county that oversee facilities or events that attract visitors to the region. Last year over 60 applications were submitted, with 44 of those applications being approved for a grant. I am confident that many of the community events funded through this program would not be possible if not for the Gap Grants award by the tourism council.

We host two annual events, the National Pike Wagon Train and the Rubberneck Tour. Both events showcase the areas must-sees.

The office produces an annual visitors guide. The guide offers useful information such as a schedule of events, area attractions, outdoor recreation and other details, including important local contact information.

As a member of the tourism industry, the tourism office has made it our responsibility to inform and ensure awareness to protect the health and safety of our visitors and our residents.

We share information that helps many navigate through these very unpredictable times. We use our social media platforms to inform our followers of the ever-changing times.

What’s up?

With spring right around the corner, the tourism office has been working on the 2021 calendar of events schedule, as well as planning the Wagon Train event and revising the Belmont County Geocaching Tour.

To find out more about these events and more like them, go to our website at visitbelmontcounty.com.

Also, if you are planning an event, please send our office the information so we can add the event to our calendar and post it on our social media platforms.

Looking ahead

I am excited about the future in Belmont County. Although many of our businesses suffered during the pandemic, few had to close doors. Several new businesses even opened. I feel that this is because of the push to support local.

The silver lining to the virus is that many are choosing to visit locally owned shops, stores, eateries and specialty stores.

I also feel that when the COVID-19 mandates are lifted, our events are going to be even bigger and better.

I look forward to sharing the happenings and unique treasures of the area. Please feel free to stop by the office to receive a copy of our free visitors guide and enjoy a cup of coffee on us. That’s just one “perk” of being friends with the staff at Belmont County Tourism.

The first Sunday of each month, this space will be devoted to a column written by Barbara Ballint, executive director of the Belmont County Tourism Council. “Barb” will provide information about the tourism office, local attractions, upcoming events, and other local finds in Belmont County. She will share information about the travel and tourism industry and how it impacts our local economy.

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