At the Helm: Promoting paradise

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer March 02, 2012 09:58 pm

 

Ever wonder how our beautiful coastline, rivers, mountains and communities are advertised and marketed to the rest of the world?

A look at the annual report of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce gives us a good idea.

This time of year, Chamber President Les Cohen presents the Brookings City Council with a comprehensive account of the chamber’s past and current  promotional efforts. 

At Monday’s city council meeting Cohen reported the number of tourists to the area in 2011 was up approximately 34 percent over 2010. The occupancy rates at local hotel and RV parks remained strong despite increased room rates and the poor economy.

“The 2011 occupancy rates up and down the coast were down about 1 percent, so we’re doing pretty good by comparison,” he said.

Attracting visitors to the Brookings area in 2012 is going to be more challenging, Cohen said. 

“We do everything we can to attract people to our area and then gas prices go up,” he said. 

While people from around the world travel to the Oregon Coast, a majority of visitors to Curry County, especially during spring break, come from the Rogue Valley and Northern California areas.

Last month, the Chamber launched a new website (www.brookingsharborchamber.com) with a variety of features. The website is available in five non-English  languages – Spanish, German, Japanese, French, Chinese. 

The chamber also has a Facebook page with more than 2,200 fans. Fans make comments and post photos and videos of the area, and share their experiences in Curry County. (You’ll definitely get your fill of sunset photos!) It also lists upcoming events and activities.

The Chamber gets some of its funding for promotions from the city’s 6 percent transient room tax, which is included in hotel and motel bills. For the fiscal year ending in June of 2011, the city earned $137,914, 25 percent (or $34,478) of which must be used to promote tourism, according to Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman.

In 2011, the Chamber spent about $64,600 to promote the area, about $24,000 more than in 2010, a 58 percent increase over 2010, Cohen said.

Where does the money go?

Here are a few examples of what the Chamber spent in 2011:

• $273,00, to print promotional brochures.

• $5,704, postage for visitor information and relocation packets.

• $5,522, advertising in six issues of Oregon Coast magazine.

• $5,075, advertising on Travel Oregon website.

• $13,515, Television advertising campaign in northern California and Rogue Valley. Travel Oregon matched that amount.

The chamber works collaboratively with other Oregon and California communities, and with tourism-oriented agencies such as the Oregon Coast Visitors Association and Southernā€ˆOregon Visitors Association.  

Last fall, the chamber hosted a two-day tour of the area for culinary travel writers from British Columbia, Portland, Tennessee and California, which resulted in  several articles and blogs “lauding our area’s culinary and visual treats,” Cohen said.

Would people still flock to our beautiful corner of the world without these efforts?

Of course.

Would the number of visitors remain high?

Unlikely. 

But let’s be honest. With everything we have to offer here, it’s not really a hard sell.