Tourism is a priority in Carbon County.

That's why county officials created the tourism grant fund after they implemented the 3 percent hotel tax in February 2007.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board unanimously voted to approve a memorandum of understanding between Carbon County and the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau that supports the grant initiatives in Carbon County. The memorandum of understanding also authorizes the release of $47,750 from the Hotel Room Excise Tax fund for the county's tourism grant.

A total of 10 nonprofit organizations will benefit from the ongoing grant during this round of funding. The county distributes the grant twice a year.

To date, Carbon County has distributed approximately $300,000 to nonprofit organizations to help promote tourism.

The county receives a total of 50 percent of the hotel tax. Of the 50 percent, Carbon County receives 20 percent, which it uses for improvements to Mauch Chunk Lake Park; 28 percent is put into the grant fund; and 2 percent goes toward administration fees.

The remaining 50 percent goes to the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein added that the second round of grant applications is currently open to any nonprofit organization that promotes tourism. Applications can be downloaded off the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce website at http://carboncountypa.org/ or one can be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce office, located at 110 N. Third St., Suite 216, Lehighton, or Carbon County Commissioners Office, Carbon County Courthouse Annex, Jim Thorpe. Deadline for applications is April 30, he noted.

After the grant period closes, the recipients are chosen by the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce's Room Tax Allocation Committee.

The committee reviews the applications and determines which projects meet the requirements for funding and then provides its recommendations to the county.

This grant round's recipients are:

Ÿ The Summit Hill Heritage Center: $1,000 for 2011 Concert Series - Big Band.

Ÿ The Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization: $2,000 for the Ludlow Park 100th Anniversary.

Ÿ Carbon County Lion/ Lioness Fair Association, Inc.: $8,000 for the Carbon County Fair.

Ÿ Nic and Eileen East Art Foundation: $1,000 for Art Odyssey.

Ÿ B&B Subcommittee of tourism and accommodations: $4,000 for Enjoy Carbon County - B&B Style.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $4,000 for Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration.

Ÿ Summit Hill Historical Society: $750 for Walking Tour brochures.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $2,000 for Winterfest 2011.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $10,000 for radio and print promotions.

Ÿ Carbon County Chamber of Commerce: $15,000 for countywide promotions.

The Carbon County Hotel Excise Tax, which includes a 3 percent tax on room rentals in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts in the county, was signed by the commissioners in 2007.

The tax had been under negotiation since 2004, when commissioners voted down Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau's original proposal of a 20 percent revenue return on the money the tax would generate. They eventually negotiated a 50 percent revenue return to the county.