Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, May 30 @ 4:10 p.m. / Community, Economy

Visitors Bureau Will Seek More Funding Ahead of Strategy To Get Del Norte Tourists To Stay Longer

Before Crescent City councilors waded into the 2024-25 budget, Cindy Vosburg asked them to consider increasing their allocation to the Del Norte County Visitors Bureau.

Vosburg, executive director for the visitors bureau and the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, asked for an additional $30,000 and a two-year commitment. But she also urged councilors to decide what they’re comfortable with.

“What you’re buying isn’t numbers,” she said at the council’s May 21 budget workshop. “You’re buying results, and us having more resources means we can do more for you.”

Appearing before councilors with Lynnette Braillard, of LuLish Design, who also spearheads marketing for Crescent City, Vosburg said in addition to its main goal of drawing people to Del Norte, this year the visitors bureau will also figure out how to get them to stay longer.

There are still decisions that need to be made, however, Vosburg said. This includes how much of a contribution the visitors bureau should make to the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission. The visitors bureau Board of Directors is expected to discuss next year’s marketing plan at its first meeting in June.

Vosburg said she envisions marketing workshops for tourist-based businesses, better maps and brochures for Crescent City’s downtown area and comprehensive hiking maps for the area.

She brought up international marketing, particularly in Japan, redesigning the Visit Del Norte website, holding a Japanese glass float scavenger hunt promotion and engaging in professional research to determine who is coming to Del Norte County and why.

“We need to know why these people are coming,” Vosburg told councilors, adding that the last professional study on Del Norte tourism was held in about 2012 or 2013. “We think we know, but it’s really important to know from a professional [to] make sure we’re targeting right.”

The plan must be approved by the Visitor Bureau Board and Chamber Board, she said. It will go into effect July 1.
Vosburg told the Wild Rivers Outpost that she also plans to bring her request for an increase in funding to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

Crescent City allocates $102,000 to the Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce, according to City Manager Eric Wier. He noted that the city had increased its contribution by about $30,000 roughly two years ago “for efforts just like this.”

Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore, who represents the city at the Visitors Bureau, said the $22,000 allocation to the chamber is to operate the visitor center, while $80,000 is for destination marketing. The city also allows the Visitor Bureau and Chamber of Commerce to use the Cultural Center, which is an in-kind contribution of about $40,000 per year, Inscore said.

Del Norte County currently allocates $115,000 a year to the chamber and visitors bureau, Vosburg told the Outpost in February. About $94,340 of that allocation goes to the visitors bureau for destination marketing.

The visitors bureau also receives $10,000 from the Crescent City Harbor District, Vosburg said.

At $182,000, the visitors bureau doesn’t have much to work with in the way of funding to market Del Norte County compared neighboring destination marketing organizations.

According to a funding graph provided by the visitors bureau, Humboldt County uses $718,000 in destination marketing funding, the Shasta-Cascade region has about $1.5 million to work with and Mendocino County has $1.7 million in destination marketing dollars.

Meanwhile, according to a Dean Runyan Associates report, direct travel spending in Del Norte County in 2019 was at $151 million. Following a decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic spending rose to $154 million in 2022 and $156 million in 2023.

Direct travel spending in California was $154 billion in 2023, according to the Dean Runyan Associates report.

At last week's budget workshop, Councilwoman Kelly Schellong said she wanted to see a cost breakdown of the different programs Vosburg and Braillard want to see the visitors bureau implement.

Schellong said a cost breakdown would make it easier to prioritize “[where] you could get the most bang for your buck off of your list of what-ifs.”

Braillard pointed out that Visit Del Norte is competing with other destination marketing organizations who can spend “triple, quadruple our total budget.” She noted that the projects Vosburg envisioned depends on the funding the visitors bureau receives.

Inscore also noted that while the agencies that contribute to the visitors bureau are allowed to weigh in on the projects and goals they’d like to see it work on, the destination marketing plan has always been comprehensive.

“This was a strategy we took to make sure we were marketing the entire region,” Inscore said. “I don’t think we’re looking at funding to say, ‘We’ll give you money if we get x.’ That would be a departure from what we have been doing strategically. I’m not sure if that’s what we’re asking, but that’s a different approach than what we have taken in the last five years.”

Vosburg said she would return to the Crescent City Council after receiving input from the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and the Crescent City Harbor District.


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