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Calaveras Visitors Bureau Draws Some Heat From Supervisors

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San Andreas, CA — Tourism has been incrementally on the rise in Calaveras County, but there were concerns voiced by the Board of Supervisors about focusing too much of the marketing efforts on the Highway 4 corridor.

The Calaveras Visitors Bureau receives 25% of the Calaveras County Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues, which last year totaled around $400,000. The money is the tax paid by visitors to hotels, inns, and short-term rentals. The City of Angels Camp allocated an additional $110,000 last year, plus a $50,000 stipend, related to operating the Angels Camp Museum.

The CVB delivered an annual presentation at today’s supervisors’ meeting, but District Three Supervisor Martin Huberty is the CVB Executive Director, so he excused himself prior to the discussion, so there would be no perceived conflict of interest.

CVB staff and board members noted that visitor spending in Calaveras County had gradually been increasing prior to the COVID pandemic. It was around $180 million in 2012 and peaked at around $220 million in 2019. It dropped back below $180 million in 2020, but spiked back up to $216 million in 2021. They noted that travel spending in 2021 generated $17.6 million in tax revenue and supported 2,700 jobs.

There was a video presented that markets Calaveras County, a discussion about efforts to attract outside media attention, social media engagement, and a discussion about the visitor’s guide.

At the end of the presentation, three board members (Jack Garamendi, Benjamin Stopper and Gary Tofanelli) voiced concerns about the disparity in marketing, and the high focus on the Highway 4 corridor (Copperopolis, Angels Camp, Murphys and Arnold).

Supervisor Garamendi started by stating, “I would like to see more focus on the other side of the county. We’ve said this year in and year out. Yes, there have been small steps, but not enough from my perspective.”

Garamendi also wanted more specifics on the budget, which the CVB members were not prepared to discuss without the Executive Director.

Garamendi continued, “I just want to be very clear that I won’t be voting for any dollars, without a budget… It is money that we could use for deputies, libraries, or to fill potholes.”

Supervisor Tofanelli added, “Continuously, year after year, I’ve asked for you to include District One and District Five (in marketing materials). I’ve sat here on your whole presentation and watched all of your videos you presented, and there wasn’t a single shot of District One or Five in there. I’ll tell you what, you are not progressing, from what I see.”

CVB members noted that there have been blogs published about things to do in Valley Springs, and efforts to include the whole county in the visitor’s guide.

Tofanelli brought up the fireworks show over New Hogan as being a big draw, and the Valley Springs Christmas Parade always bringing in a big crowd. He noted that marketing materials mention other similar events up the Highway 4 corridor, but seem to miss the west county.

There were also some criticisms about the operations of the Visitors Bureau being in Angels Camp.

Board Chair Amanda Folendorf, who represents a big stretch of the Highway 4 corridor, both acknowledged the concerns of the other board members, but pointed out that most of the lodging and tourism infrastructure is along the corridor.

The discussion was cordial, but sometimes appeared tense, especially when it was indicated that next year’s funding to CVB, at least at the current level, was not a given. The CVB was asked to come back prior to county budget decisions to provide more information ahead of the supervisors approving a new budget.