California Group Seeks to Revive Tourism

California Group Seeks to Revive TourismCalifornia Group Seeks to Revive Tourism

California’s main marketing agency will spend millions to help spread word that visitors should not cancel their traveling plans to the Santa Barbara region in the aftermath of the dual fire and flood disasters.

Caroline Beteta, president of Visit California, said on Thursday that the nonprofit affiliated with the state’s Office of Tourism launched a $2 million campaign assuring travelers that the region remains a destination and welcomes consumers to the area following December’s wildfire and the Jan. 9 mudslides, reported.

The ads aim to counter the perception that tourism halted after the damage during the Thomas Fire, which burned nearly 282,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and destructive mudslides.

“There is an image that is left behind and the reach is powerful,” Beteta said.

According to Visit California, the nearly two-week Highway 101 closure resulted in a loss of about $13 million, or $949,000 a day, in visitor spending in Santa Barbara County.

An exact dollar amount of the loss in tourism spending has yet to be determined, but several institutes have partnered to perform a detailed survey of the economic impact on local businesses due to the Thomas Fire and mudslides in Montecito.

City of Santa Barbara officials have also stepped up to help local businesses.

Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo told Noozhawk that the city will be issuing a refund to 43 restaurants for outdoor dining license fees during the months of business interruption in December and January.

According to city Treasury Manager Julie Nemes, Santa Barbara city reported collecting about $844,000 in transient occupancy tax from hotels and short-term rentals in December, a 26.8% decrease from the previous year.

Due to the negative financial impact of the fire and debris flow incidents on hotels, they were given the option to defer their payment without any penalty or interest until March 12 to be more flexibe with cashflow, Murillo said.

 “City officials agreed to extend this relief to help our businesses survive these natural disasters,” Murillo said.


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