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 the release of funds under a memorandum of understanding between Carbon County and the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau that supports the grant initiatives in Carbon County. The memorandum authorizes the release of $44,500 from the Hotel Room Excise Tax fund for the county's tourism grant.

A total of 13 nonprofit organization projects will benefit from the ongoing grant during this round of funding. The county distributes the grant multiple times a year.

To date, Carbon County has distributed approximately $450,000 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.

This grant round's recipients are:

Ÿ Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee: $2,500 for the 15th Annual Bike Night.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Olde Time Christmas: $2,500 for Olde Time Christmas 2012.

Ÿ Weatherly Hill Climb Association: $1,500 for the annual Weatherly Hill Climb.

Ÿ Summit Hill Heritage Center: $2,000 for brochures, rack cards, and business cards.

Ÿ Accommodation Committee of CCC: $3,000 for CCAC advertising and promotions.

Ÿ St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee: $2,000 for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade expenses.

Ÿ Mauch Chunk Museum Cultural Center: $1,500 for Lehigh Navigation Exhibition Center.

Ÿ Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization: $1,000 for the Summit Hill Hootenanny.

Ÿ Lansford Historical Society: $2,000 for New Lansford National Historic District marketing items.

Ÿ Concourse Club of Palmerton: $500 for club house tour.

Ÿ Carbon County Lion/Lioness Fair Association: $3,000 for the Carbon County Fair.

Ÿ Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce: $8,000 for the annual Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration 2013.

Ÿ Carbon County Chamber of Commerce: $15,000 for advertising and 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.

More information on how to apply for a hotel tax grant, nonprofit organizations who promote tourism can visit the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce office at 110 N. Third St., Suite 216, Lehighton; the Carbon County Commissioners' Office, located on the third floor of the courthouse annex, Jim Thorpe; or by visiting http://carboncountypa.org.