COLUMBUS -- Tourism boosters from around the state, including the heads of groups in Wayne, Holmes and Guernsey counties, are urging lawmaker support for a bill drawing attention to Ohio's 27 byways.
HB 159 would designate May, the "start of tourism season in Ohio," as "Drive Ohio Byways Month," according to the state's Legislative Service Commission.
It's a move aimed at increasing traffic along specially marked routes that guide visitors through historic, scenic and other areas of the state.
Wayne County, for example, includes a stretch of Lincoln Highway Historic Byway. An annual event featuring garage sales along that route draws thousands of tourists who patronize local businesses, Martha Starkey, executive director of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in testimony submitted to the House's Transportation and Public Safety Committee Wednesday.
"Designating an 'Ohio Byway Month' will assist destination marketing organizations like Cambridge/Guernsey County Visitors & Convention Bureau to promote and celebrate our National Road, an All American National Scenic Byway, to not only draw visitors to our area but to also remind our own residents the opportunity that awaits them in their own back yard," added Debbie Robinson, executive director of the Cambridge/Guernsey County Visitors & Convention Bureau, wrote in separate testimony.
And in Holmes County, "nearly every mile of state and federal highway is designated as a scenic byway," added Shasta Mast, executive director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, in her submitted testimony. " Tourism is the second largest industry in our county, and a true economic driver."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.