MANSFIELD -- Ohio is within a six-hour drive for 60 percent of the United States citizens, according to TourismOhio.
In turn, the Mansfield-area has some of the largest attractions in the state, Destination Mansfield noted during Wednesday's annual meeting.
Ohio’s $44 billion tourism industry provides the opportunity for consumers to plan their vacations here, while visiting with tourism destinations and attractions from across the state, according to Ohio.org.
"It's a big deal for Mansfield and it's a big deal for the state of Ohio," said Matt MacLaren, director of TourismOhio, who was in town Wednsday to speak to Destination Mansfield about its new, 10 Perfect Road Trips initiative. "We want people driving from all around. Driving here, driving to Cincinnati for a Reds (Major League Baseball) game, driving to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and going to Cleveland for the All-Star Game (MLB)."
The 10 Perfect Road Trips Ohio.org has come up with are Vibrant Cities, To the Moon and Back, Winning Drive The Scenic Route, Are We There Yet? Lovers' Lane, Foodie Fill-Up, Highway to History, Rock, Ride and Explore, and the Culture Cruise trip.
Richland County has destinations in two trips: Rock, Ride, and Explore and Winning Drive.
The Rock, Ride, and Explore plan includes the Ohio State Reformatory, a historical state penitentiary turned film-buff pit stop. OSR was the famous backdrop of films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Tango & Cash, Air Force One and most recently, Escape Plan 3.
The Winning Drive trip includes Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and recommends visitors to stay the night in Bellville at The Wishmaker House Bed & Breakfast.
"Most people already come here as visitors by car," MacLaren said. "We are a great state to drive through and that's the point (of this new initiative). If you are going to drive through Ohio, we want you to stay a few nights."
MacLaren said over-night visitors spend, on average, $365 a day per trip. Day visitors in the state spend an average of $111.
"Road trips are a great way to capture (tourism money), and the easy answer is, it fits Ohio. We are a drive-to destination," he said. "A road trip to Ohio is a great way to preserve memories and also creates visitors spending money into the local economy."
MacLaren said he was thankful for Destination Mansfield's efforts in attracting tourism to the area.
"They do a great job keeping us up on what's happening. They are one of my favorite organizations to work with across the entire state," he said. "Lee Tassiff has been on the job for a long time. He knows what he's doing and he does a great job in Mansfield and the surrounding area.
"They give us images, information -- everything to help us promote this area. At the state level, you'll see us continue to promote the great destinations in Mansfield, not just because of the great attractions, but because of Destination Mansfield making it so easy."
2018 Highlights for Destination Mansfield
“Those who have attended in the past know the annual meeting is more of a launch party than a history lesson,” added Tasseff. “Last year was a full-on sprint to get all projects done and in place before all the activity of 2019.”
In 2018, Destination Mansfield-Richland County launched four major marketing brochures (Visitors Guide, Lure Brochure, Haunted Mansfield and Shawshank Trail brochures) as well as a new DestinationMansfield.com while putting the finishing touches on a new ShawshankTrail.com.
Tasseff, walked the audience through the large-scale events that will make this year one for the record books.
“Not sure how else to describe 2019, other than “Wow, it’s gonna be a big year!” Tasseff said. “It’s incredible to think about the area being on a National, and even an International stage, as the community welcomes what is arguably, the largest collection of major events in recent history.”
This weekend the Ohio Civil War & Artillery Show takes place at the Richland County Fairgrounds, RichHistory Weekend, the Secret City Tour in downtown Mansfield, ParaPsyCon at the Ohio State Reformatory, and IMSA’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are all events taking place this weekend.
In addition, starting Monday (May 5), Destination Mansfield-Richland County will host a group of travel writers and bloggers before departing for Columbus to exhibit at TourismOhio Day on May 8.
New in 2019
This will be a year of large-scale events and major transformations, Tasseff said. The Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) has added two new conventions, along with the return of the Inkcarceration Festival. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is hosting a race new to the U.S., the Cooper Tires ARX: America’s Rally Cross of Mid-Ohio.
The Studebaker Drivers Club International Meet convenes in September followed by the National Auto Sports Association’s National Championships, and of course the Shawshank25 Anniversary in August.
As for the future, Kingwood Center Gardens’ Visitors Center and the Mansfield Arts Center’s Art Rising have started construction and the Imagination District plans are progressing.
When adding in the projects of the Mansfield Rising Plan, there is a great deal of “transformational” change going on for the community as a whole.
“We are very fortunate to have multiple developments underway at the same time.” Tasseff said. “Most cities (or counties) would be lucky to have one.”
Tourism Hall of Fame gains New Members
“We congratulate the five honorees who were recognized for their contributions to Richland County’s tourism industry,” stated Chairman Ross Clark. “From a major concert to a group of local museums, it is great to see such a diverse group of winners. That is one of the core strengths of our tourism product.”
Tourism Award of Excellence Winners for 2019 are:
1. Mansfield Motor Speedway
2. Discover Richland Partnership (Ohio Bird Sanctuary, Kingwood Center Gardens, Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, and Richland Carrousel Park)
3. Mansfield Barber Expo
4. The Barnyard Park
5. Inkcarceration Festival
Destination Mansfield – Richland County brings dollars into local economy
An “award-winning” Economic Development Corporation, Destination Mansfield-Richland County generates money for our local economy (through tourism) and raises the profile of Mansfield/Richland County around Ohio, across the nation and parts of the world.
Tourism, the 4th largest employer in Richland County, supports 4,736 jobs with a payroll of $95.7 million, while generating spending of $338.5 million and Local Taxes of $8.6 million.