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As Efforts to Expand Tourism Continue, Visitors Bureau Adds New Hires

by on May 22, 2019 5:00 AM

Boosted by new revenue from a recently increased local hotel occupancy tax, the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau is undertaking efforts to grow tourism to the region.

On Tuesday, CPCVB executive director Fritz Smith announced three new major hires of veteran professionals to assist with those efforts.

Lesley Kistner is CPCVB's new public affairs director; Tim Boyde comes on board part-time as chief administrative officer; and starting in June, Edward Stoddard will be communications director.


“We have had tremendous momentum since the newly approved room tax went into effect April 1 and are building an experienced team that will allow us to share our story with more people as we aim to increase visitors traveling to Happy Valley,” Smith said in a news release.

In February, Centre County commissioners approved the first local hotel occupancy tax in 17 years, doubling the rate from 2.5 percent to 5 percent. The visitors bureau receives hotel tax revenues for its operations in promoting tourism locally and to provide grants to nonprofits for events and initiatives to drive tourism.

Smith has said that new tax revenue will in turn be used to increase tourism across the board in the county, from new marketing efforts to more funds for events that can bring visitors to the area.

"We had quite frankly fallen behind here," Smith said in April. "We had fallen behind from a sales department standpoint, technology standpoint, staffing standpoint. We just got behind the curve. We knew we needed this increase to come up with the resources to do the effective sales and marketing that attract more people to Centre County, help fill our hotels and bed and breakfasts and attractions and restaurants."

Kistner comes to CPCVB from the Chamber of Business and Industry Centre County (CBICC), where she has been vice president for communications and marketing. As CPCVB's public affairs director, she "will be tasked with enhancing the marketability of the community to local and external tourism economic development audiences," according to the news release. Kistner also will serve on task forces and committees related to economic and community development and will assist with hosting CPCVB events. CPCVB and CBICC will continue their ongoing collaboration for community marketing and branding, and Kistner will continue with CBICC for a period of time.

Prior to her role at CBICC, Kistner was communications director for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry in Harrisburg. She lives in Milesburg with her husband, Jerry.

Boyde brings 14 years of experience as a county administrator in three states to his part-time role of chief administrative officer for CPCVB. He served two stints as Centre County administrator, as well as holding the same position in Jefferson County, W. Va., and Allegany County, N.Y. At CPCVB, he "will concentrate predominantly on human resources policy and processes, budget and contract management, serve as a liaison to legal, financial, insurance, and medical benefit providers," and will be board secretary, according to the news release.

Boyde lives in Bellefonte with his wife, Patty.

“With our planned increased activity comes a need for strengthening our processes and procedures, and bringing Tim on board will help ensure that we are transparent with our spending,” Smith said.  

Stoddard is currently marketing director for the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau and has a professional background that includes "business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationship building, strategic marketing, media relations, social media management, market research, media purchasing, entrepreneurship as a small business owner, sales development, community leadership training, graphic design and photography for individual and corporate clients." Stoddard previously worked for the Centre Daily Times.

He plans to relocate to Bellefonte with his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Genevieve.

“I have long admired the collective work of Lesley, Tim and Ed and look forward to welcoming them to the team as we continue to grow and evolve our brand," Smith said.


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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