After pressure from the tourism community, four new industry representative seats have been added to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau board while four government official seats have been removed.
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors earlier this week approved changes to the bureau’s operating agreement and the Charlottesville City Council voted on the changes late last year.
The tourism board now has two accommodations representative seats and two food or beverage representative seats, one from each category appointed by the city and the county.
Two elected official seats, one from each the city and the county, were removed, as well as the city manager seat and the county executive seat.
Last year, the board heard from tourism industry representatives that there’s a disconnect between the board and industry needs, and that there should be more representation from businesses on the board.
The issue was not new. Since the board’s makeup was changed in 2018, when elected officials were added, industry representation on the board has been an ongoing concern.
Ultimately, the bureau’s Board of Directors recommended at its October meeting to change the makeup of the board.
Angelic Jenkins, the owner of Angelic’s Kitchen, has been appointed to the city’s food and beverage seat on the board, while Jay Pun, co-owner of Chimm, Chimm Street, and Thai Cuisine and Noodle House, has been appointed to the county’s food and beverage seat on the board.
Russ Cronberg, general manager of The Boar’s Head Resort, has been appointed to the county’s accomodations seat on the board, while Walter Burton, general manager of The Draftsman Hotel, has been appointed to the city’s accomodations seat on the board.
The updated agreement also includes a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; clarifies the process for appointing industry representatives; aligns terms to begin on Jan. 1; and places limitations on fund balance carryover to 25% of the operating budget.
When the city council approved the changes to the agreement last year, then-Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who also served as a council representative on the board, said councilors will need to make sure that the board is diverse, what the board advocates is diverse and that money given to the board is being used to meet set goals.
“I do think there should be a level of oversight to make sure that the diversity component, who we are trying to attract with tourism and what we consider as sites to highlight, that we do a better job there,” she said at the time.
Industry representatives have also asked that funding for the bureau be increased. Currently, the money comes from a portion of the city and county’s transient occupancy tax, which is levied on hotel and short-term rental guests.
According to upcoming budget documents provided by the bureau, the city’s contribution to the bureau is decreasing by almost 25%, or $235,756, while the county’s contribution is decreasing by about 0.1%, or $510.
However, the bureau has received American Rescue Plan Act funding, and is looking to use fund balances from both fiscal year 2022 and 2023 for marketing. The budget will be presented to its board at its Feb. 28 meeting.