Santa Paula Times

The Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau is a Smart Investment

April 03, 2009
By Supervisor Kathy Long For every $1 spent, the return is 3 times over in the tourism industry. The State Tourism office recent survey says the average tourist spends $75 per day. Sounds like a good investment!Tourism is the fourth largest industry in our state, because it creates jobs, is an economic stimulus with the potential for over 1/2 million dollars in the Santa Clara Valley/Heritage Valley, and does so with very little negative community impact.In 1998 the County of Ventura joined with the cities of Santa Paula, Fillmore and community of Piru to form the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau (HVTB).To reach that economic goal, things such as the development of more places to stay overnight, hotels, Bed and Breakfasts Inns etc. are needed, along with a greater collaboration of festivals, train events, and valley wide marketing to attract visitors.The first goal of the HVTB was to do just that, market to our own backyard, then the greater Los Angeles region and next the world. Much has been accomplished since 1998, starting with the economic engine of the Fillmore & Western Railway connecting the cultural/historical riches of the valley. We put on our maps and though cooperative marketing the historic Rancho Camulos, the community of Piru/Town Square and Depot, the City of Fillmore-home of the train, and onto the Santa Paula riches of the Oil Museum, Mural Project, historic Depot/Mill and festival events. That cooperative valley wide marketing has included local/statewide maps, local and national magazines (articles and ads), large trade shows in Los Angeles, visitor guides, website linkages (take a look!) with the state of California Trade and Tourism, Santa Clarita Tourism Visitor Guide and many other resources crafted to draw in tourist. Now, the success of these tools/resources are measured by website hits/connections, and survey tools used by the destination stops, such as asking that visitor who stays overnight or visits the museums -”how did you hear about us”. This isn’t rocket science, but it is only as strong as the businesses and community volunteers make it.
The HVTB from its inception has included public/private representatives to serve on the Board of Directors from both Cities, Chambers of Commerce, the County, the Piru Neighborhood Council, Rancho Camulos, and eight members “at large” from the business community. Santa Paula and Fillmore have had a total of 12 seats at the table to engage in all decisions as to how best to market, how best to measure the effectiveness of the investment, and how best to succeed.As I have served on many Boards over the years, they all have times where the board members aren’t as engaged as they should be, nor perhaps as invested with the volunteer efforts ---but that doesn’t necessarily equate to failure. The HVTB has fulfilled the Santa Paula City Council’s performance requirements adopted in August 2008. If the HVTB hasn’t measured up to others’ “expectations” than that should be addressed by the Board representatives who have committed to serve on the HVTB.If the communities don’t understand or aren’t aware of the work of the HVTB, than better communications needs to take place. I still strongly believe that the investment in tourism is a smart investment. If the public partners feel they need to reduce the contribution during these tough economic times, than the HVTB will adjust accordingly. But to point fingers and blame for perceived failure, only leaves three fingers pointing back at you.Since 1998 we’ve worked to put out the WELCOME mat for tourists -now is not the time to pull it in and close the door. Chambers market locally, tourism bureaus globally -let’s work together to improve the marketing and operations, re-commit to the goals and invite the world again to come visit and “discover the valley.”