The Magic House to expand tourism reach with county funds

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday passed a bill that would appropriate funds to The Magic House to help boost its tourism outreach.

The bill, which passed 4-1, would appropriate $100,000 from the unappropriated balance of the Convention and Recreation Trust Fund to The Magic House for marketing purposes. Specifically, the revenue would be used for a television campaign that would run throughout the Midwest, as well as digital advertisements that would geo-target specific zip codes and demographics.

Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger said her bill would benefit all St. Louis County residents by getting more tourists into the area, who would in turn spend money on local restaurants and other businesses.

“I think it provides a direct benefit to the residents of St. Louis County from the hotel-motel tax, which quite frankly, most of that money ends up in the city,” Wasinger said. “I think we should be taking a stand and advocating for organizations that qualify, or are able to bring that kind of tourism into St. Louis, because we all benefit from that.”

According the St. Louis Regional Chamber, The Magic House generates an estimated $18.1 million in economic impact each year.

This is the first time in eight years The Magic House has received funds from St. Louis County; in 2009, $50,000 was allocated to the facility, also for the purposes of marketing and boosting tourism.

Beth Fitzgerald, the president of The Magic House, said at a committee hearing Tuesday that the goal of having the additional funding would allow The Magic House to become a tourist destination for all of the Midwest.

“We really want to have a broader impact and reach out regionally, which I think is hopefully something that St. Louis County could be proud of,” she said. “The Magic House is a regionally recognized children’s museum that is bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the community.”

Councilman Sam Page, who voted in favor of the bill, said he hopes this inspires other not-for-profit institutions to be competitive for the funds.

“I would like to go on record to recognize that as we move forward into the next calendar year that it’s my expectation that other similar institutions be allowed to compete for this money and it won’t limited to The Magic House.”

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