Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
May 25th
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

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival