Monday, July 24, 2006

Together for tourism - Solano set to unveil '80 on 80' campaign

Article Launched: 7/17/2006 06:24 AM

Together for tourism
Solano set to unveil '80 on 80' campaign


While cities within Solano County can engage in healthy competition at times, there are more times when it is best to collaborate and cooperate for the greater good. And that includes tourism, a potential economic boon to local communities.

There are indications that we "get it" now, that if we work together to maximize precious financial resources we can do a better job of creating jobs related to tourism, of increasing sales tax dollars from those who live outside our region.

Solano Economic Development Corp. hosted a panel discussion last week that focused on how tourism can become one of the pistons driving our economic engine locally. And the message and call for action was simple: Let's do it, and let's do it as a team.

To that end, we endorse the soon-to-be launched marketing effort comprising communities up and down Interstate 80, from the Carquinez Strait to the Yolo Causeway. Dubbed "80 on 80," the billboard and Internet campaign will draw attention to myriad festivals and events - at least 80, and probably more - that occur along the asphalt ribbon that dissects Solano County and leads to two great population centers: Sacramento and San Francisco.

By Labor Day, there should be a cooperative effort under way to garner some of the $88 billion annually infused into the California economy by tourism, adding to the 912,000 jobs related to tourism that exist today in the Golden State. In fact, "80 on 80" could be - and should be - the beginning of partnerships that lure visitors to our cities.

The three steps to success were clearly defined and need to be embraced by county and the civic leaders on the seven city councils and the county's Board of Supervisors.

First, we need to identify our target audience, those most likely to visit our communities via the interstate system.

Second, an economic study is necessary to show the potential of a comprehensive tourism marketing effort, including what return on our investment would be. (The state of California says it gets back $19 for $1 it spends on marketing the Golden State.)

And finally, there needs to be an exhaustive "destination audit," to clearly and candidly identify our weaknesses and how to overcome them, and our strengths and how to capitalize on them.

With an integrated approach, Solano County can become better at pulling people off Interstate 80 and getting their dollars spent here, rather than somewhere down the highway. We are growing our cultural venues, such as museums and festivals. We are adding new commercial attractions such as the Nut Tree Family Park to the well-known institutions like Jelly Belly and Six Flags.

It will work if we work together.

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