[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
WARREN — The Trumbull County Tourism Bureau, the official destination marketing organization for Trumbull County, promotes the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences of Trumbull County.
Beth Kotwis Carmichael, Trumbull County Tourism executive director, said the bureau aims to cater to varying interests of locals and travelers alike by suggesting a variety of eateries, activities, attractions and hotels.
In August, the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau's 2020 Trumbull County Visitors Guide received a 2021 Destiny Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association in the category “Printed Collateral Material.”
“The Destiny Awards recognize U.S. Travel destination members for excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing and promotion at the local and regional level; and foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion programs and activities.,” according to the organization’s website.
Kotwis Carmichael said Trumbull County Tourism was the only destination in Ohio to be a finalist and was the smallest bureau by size to win the award.
“We're thrilled to have received that. National recognition is so important,” she said. “It just means that we are really on the right track and it just makes us work so much harder [and] strive to continue to be better at what we do.”
Kotwis Carmichael leads Trumbull County Tourism from a rare standpoint — as both somewhat of a local, and with somewhat of an outsider's perspective.
She was born in Trumbull County and got her start in hospitality in the catering department of Warren’s Saratoga Restaurant & Catering.
After graduating Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation, Kotwis Carmichael has had an active career in tourism, working at various travel destinations like Walt Disney World, hotels Daytona Beach and Miami and led the Miami and the Gulf Coast offices of a Florida bus company. She was Jefferson City, Mo.’s destination marketing executive director and executive director for Napa Valley, California’s Visitors Bureau before moving back to Trumbull County 35 years later to step into her current role at Trumbull County Tourism.
“I just have a depth of tourism knowledge ... I love what I do,” she said.
Kotwis Carmichael said Trumbull County Tourism has a large economic impact on the Trumbull County area.
“We play a major role in economic development. We just completed research earlier this year that said, for every $1 that we spend in marketing, and doing tourism marketing here in Trumbull County,[we turn] $194 in spending by a party coming and visiting. So that's a huge return on investment,” she said.
“We like to call ourselves the cheerleaders for Trumbull County. We always want to take a positive approach,” she added.
Kotwis Carmichael told Mahoning Matters that Trumbull County Tourism encourages new visitors while, at the same time, aiming to reignite the interest of locals by “taking a unique approach to marketing.”
One unique feature is the Italian food trail, an interactive map of local Italian eateries, on Trumbull County Tourism’s website.
“A lot of different destinations will do trails. They'll do beer trails, or wine trails, or, you know, bourbon trails ... I wanted to make sure that we were doing something that was unique, and truly, who we are as a county, so we never lose sight of who we are,” Kotwis Carmichael said. “When you think about the fact that we have over 60 Italian restaurants, non chain, that gives you a little bit of the history of who we are.” she added.
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting travel, Kotwis Carmichael said the main focus right now is on visitors who are visiting for a “staycation” or short road trip to the area. These include folks who might’ve taken an out-of-state vacation but who are now opting to stay closer to home.
“The one thing we didn't want to have happen was for when those family and friends decided to come back here to Trumbull County and visit that our residents didn't say, ‘Oh my gosh, there's nothing to do here,’” she said.
“We shifted our marketing and started talking to our residents here, not just Trumbull County, but in our region, and just reminded them that we have this National Packard Museum, we have the only luxury resort in north Ohio, with The Grand Resort, awesome shopping at the Eastwood Mall, you know, we're the fourth largest Amish community in the United States up in Mesopotamia,” she said. “So those items and more, we wanted to promote.”