Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Getting Tourism to Take Off

Beach_santa_cruzSTourism took a hard hit in 2009. Will 2010 be any better?
With spring on our doorstep and summer soon to follow, Santa Cruz is once again entering tourist season. While not a favorite time for some residents, the City of Santa Cruz hopes to see more tourists heading here from over the hill or up the coast on Highway 1 into town as the days increase in length and the sun begins to peek from behind the clouds. The travel sector is counting on this summer to be stronger than the last, which recorded a 7 percent decrease in hotel occupancy and a 10 percent decrease in rates compared with the previous year.

Partly in response to the hit local tourism has taken, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to congress earlier this month that would authorize $10 million in federal grant money for tourism projects across the country. The Travel Regional Investment Partnership (TRIP) Act would allow communities across the U.S. to apply for federal competitive grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million in size.

For hotel owners, the proposed bill could not have come at a better time. According to the Santa Cruz County Visitors Council, 2009 hotel occupancy rates were down 17 percent from the year prior. “Part of the problem is that that wasn’t the first year of decline,” says Maggie Ivy, CEO of the Visitors Council. “We ended the year with [an average] 51 percent hotel occupancy, which is the lowest occupancy we’ve seen on record since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here 15 years. It’s a significant drop.”

Farr has served as the co-chair of Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, which currently consists of more than 100 members of congress, since 1997. Farr hopes the TRIP act will give economies like those in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties the jumpstart they need.

“He's long been a supporter of tourism as a vehicle to drive economic recovery and create jobs in our area,” says Tom Mentzer, Farr’s press secretary. “That's the reason he's become such a champion of travel and tourism, both in his time here in congress and his time in the assembly earlier.”

The specifications for which projects will qualify for funding under the TRIP act will have to be worked out by the Department of Commerce if the bill passes. Ivy can already think of one place where the resources might be well spent: In a recent study by the Visitors Council, 83 percent of respondents said that their primary information source for planning trips was the Internet. Ivy says that the local tourism industry could benefit from more Internet resources and online advertising.

At $2 billion a year, tourism is the 17th District's second biggest industry after agriculture at $4 billion. In the City of Santa Cruz, tourism is number one, making for a $600 million dollar a year industry. The SCC Visitors Council reports that every dollar invested into their annual budget for tourism resulted in $10 generated in local sales and hotel occupancy taxes.

Mentzer says that tourism supports and represents “a whole range of different industries,” including hotels, restaurants, aquariums and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “When people come and visit, they're not just putting money in one particular business,” he says. “They're spreading it all around, and they're creating jobs throughout the economy.”

However, one of biggest challenges facing the local tourism industry is getting more visitors to stay overnight. Currently, 75 percent of Santa Cruz visitors come from Northern and Central California—nearby regions that allow tourists to come just for the day. If more of these visitors were inclined to stay overnight, an increase in hotel occupancy could have tremendous benefits for the Santa Cruz economy at large. Regardless, the Travel Industry Association reports that tourism, overall, may not begin to see significant improvements until 2011.

“Tourism is so interconnected in the community,” says Ivy. “If someone is staying in a hotel, they’re purchasing meals at the restaurant, they’re buying things at the beachfront stores, and then those businesses are purchasing advertising ... They’re employing people. So, it definitely has an enormous domino effect within our entire local economy.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Designing Woman

Female gardener helps build Versailles in fun, if uneven, ‘A Little Chaos’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food