Travel Butler County visitors bureau gets new leader

Tracy Kocher fills role vacated by Mark Hecquet.

The new Travel Butler County leader says they are still on a “recovery climb” out of the depths of the devastating coronavirus pandemic but they have new innovative plans for the future.

Travel Butler County’s Board of Directors announced this week they have appointed Tracy Kocher to fill the role of president & CEO.

“Tracy brings a wealth of experience to Butler County’s tourism industry,” Caroline McKinney, Travel Butler County board chair said. “With an extensive background in destination marketing spanning from Colorado to Ohio, the board is confident that Tracy is the right leader to take the organization forward into its next chapter.”

Kocher was appointed interim when long-time leader Mark Hecquet announced in December he was moving to Springfield, Mo. to head the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to that she was the agency’s vice president of marketing and communications.

“I have been blessed and privileged to be able to work this organization for nearly 10 years,” Kocher told the Journal-News. “Over that time I’ve seen the community grow, tourism is a critical part of our community from an economic standpoint, from a lively standpoint, from a visitor attraction standpoint and we’ve done incredible things over the last 10 years. I’m excited to continue the legacy that has been established since the beginning.”

Tourism and the visitors bureau took a huge hit during the pandemic when everyone was ordered to stay home, so much so the Butler County commissioners gave them $750,000 in pandemic relief funds to help them and the local industry recover.

Kocher told the Journal-News they have spent $5,000 so far to attend additional trade shows to talk up the county and other efforts to bring more tourism to the county. The agency is financed through lodgings taxes and she said things are improving three years post-pandemic.

“We’re still definitely in a recovery mode there’s no doubt about that but every day we improve,” Kocher said. “Butler County is incredibly well positioned, we’re near lots of population, we have great access in and out, wonderful venues, great things to experience and all of those things are helping to support us in the recovery but we’re definitely on that recovery climb still.”

They came up with the popular Donut Trail treasure hunt program about eight years ago — since its inception, more than 34,000 people from all 50 states and 22 countries have completed the trail — and she said they have some things in the works for this year, she just isn’t ready to share just yet, “the organization has never been one to just rest on recent success we’re always continuing to innovate come up with new ways to market and sell Butler County.”

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