Competing Tourism Orgs Finally Form Partnership in Beaufort, S.C.

Although they've been trying unsuccessfully to join forces for the better part of a year, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Beaufort-Port Royal Convention and Visitors Bureau in Beaufort, S.C., have finally reached an agreement that will allow them to partner on tourism marketing initiatives, reports local newspaper The Beaufort Gazette.

Since founding the Beaufort-Port Royal Convention & Visitors Bureau last year, its board chairman, Dick Stewart, has been debating a merger with the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, the public body in charge of tourism marketing in Beaufort since 1980. Despite several conversations, however, the two organizations—both of which have said they want to raise Beaufort's destination profile among travelers—ceased negotiations earlier this year when they were unable to agree on priorities for spending public tourism funds.

When the organizations re-opened lines of communication this spring, their respective boards finally agreed to a mutually beneficial partnership and subsequently adopted a resolution eliminating competition between them.

"We never stopped talking to the Chamber, although on a couple occasions they had decided they wanted to stop talking to us," Stewart told The Beaufort Gazette. "But after a period of time, they were able to revisit the issue."

Added Chamber President Carlotta Ungaro, "I know working together will benefit the community and tourism in the long run."

According to their new resolution, the Chamber and CVB will remain separate entities but will continue "good faith negotiations" in order to cooperate on local tourism issues. The Chamber will add up to nine more representatives from the lodging industry to its board of directors over the next three years while the CVB will refrain from competing with the Chamber when it comes to marketing, membership, advertising and similar activities.