Friday, January 20th, 2012
By Nancy Allen
State again discounts camping, other services
Move made to draw visitors back to Grand Lake
  For the third consecutive year, services at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park will be discounted to draw visitors to the lake after three summers of algae blooms and water advisories.
Fees for campsites and cabins at the state park campground will be reduced by 25 percent. Shelterhouse rental will be reduced by 25 percent and private and state dock fees will be reduced 50 percent, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
Brian Miller, manager at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, said the action shows the state's commitment to the community to increase lake visitation.
"We realize what tourism means to the community," he said. "Not only does it help us with revenues, it helps businesses with their revenues."
The discounts are effective immediately until Aug. 30, except for Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27) and Independence Day week (June 30-July 8). Those with previous reservations will receive discounts when they check in. Last year the state offered 50 percent discounts on these services.
Local tourism and business officials think discounts help, Miller said. More visitors to the lake helps the local economy because they buy fuel at gasoline stations, eat at local restaurants and shop at grocery and retail stores.
Discounting state dock fees could also give hotels a boost, he said, because some of the people who purchase them live out of town and need a place to stay.
Miller said in 2010, the worst year for decreased lake visitation from the algae blooms, campground occupancy decreased 41 percent. The state that year also issued its strictest water advisory, warning people against boating and eating the lake's fish.
The advisory was downgraded last year and boating and eating the fish were OK'd. Camping was up 9.4 percent and cabin rentals increased almost 46 percent, Miller said.
The first state-issued water advisory due to algae toxins was placed on the lake just before Memorial Day weekend in 2009.
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