Working with any tourism organization is rewarding as well as challenging; just like any business entity. One of the challenges that’s unique to Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) which is what we are, is explaining why our advertising is less visible in our own communities.
The best way to do that is to contrast our role with that of a Chamber of Commerce. A chamber of commerce and a visitor’s bureau both focus on increasing business for local businesses and organizations. The primary difference is where we focus our efforts.
The local chambers and promotion clubs in our area (Tuolumne County, Sonora, Jamestown, Groveland, Twain Harte and Columbia) all focus most of their efforts to the local community with “shop local” programs and general support for all of their members. They spend their marketing and advertising dollars locally which also helps support local businesses.
The role of any visitor’s bureau is to attract visitors from outside of the County to come to our area, to stay longer and to spend money in our local hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores. Consequently, our marketing and advertising dollars and efforts are invested regionally, statewide, nationally and internationally. However, we do spend dollars locally on Public Relations.
To entice visitors to come here, we actively promote our major events, four-season recreational opportunities, the tremendous arts community we have and of course, the very rich gold rush history that fascinates visitors from around the world.
To accomplish this, we tailor the message differently as well. For visitors from beyond Northern California, we have to include a geography lesson on where we are and how to get here. We have to acquaint them with attractions and activities we have to offer which most local residents know quite well.
We may be somewhat less visible here in the foothills, however based on the continuing growth of tourism, we’re getting the message out and generating close to $180 million a year in visitor spending for local businesses and community organizations and close to $10 million a year in tax revenue.
We invite you to visit us at our new Visitor Information Center – the “Vacation Station” located in the Day-O Plaza in downtown Sonora. We have great information there for residents and visitors alike. The Vacation Station is open daily.