Seeing an uptick, tourism officials look forward

Sonoma County bureau moving; sets long-term plan

[caption id="attachment_14919" align="alignright" width="173" caption="Tourists and wine from the recent Sonoma County Wine Country Weekend."][/caption]

SONOMA COUNTY – As tourism statistics indicate the sector is on the rise, the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau will commence its first, three-year strategic plan, including more tech marketing, a larger home office and additional satellite locations on the East Coast and abroad.

Following a somewhat sluggish summer as the recession took hold, recent Sonoma County hospitality rates show a rebound, reflected in an increase in occupancy by half a percent between July 2008 and July 2009 — the first positive shift of the year. According the most recent Smith Travel Research report, occupancy rates hit 72.9 percent in July compared with Napa, where rates fell by 9 percent to 63.7 percent. Napa officials recently were more upbeat, seeing a return of more visitors.

The bureau responsible for marketing Sonoma County tourism at the same time decided on a comprehensive business plan for the next three years.

In the fall of 2008, the Board of Supervisors guaranteed funding to the group for more than one year for the first time, allowing the bureau and its vintner and wine grape partners to prepare a multi-year strategic plan. Among the efforts, the three bodies will make the move to a larger office in November once their lease expires late next month.

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