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Bishop Chamber visits, promotional efforts steady

March 3, 2014

The Bishop Visitors Bureau is distributing 1,500 copies of this new brochure that details six under-two-mile, relatively flat hikes along paths such as South Lake Wildflower, Pinyon Nature and Dehy Park Historic trails. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

From the perspective of the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the current drought has had little impact on visitation or local events and promotions.
At the Feb. 24 City Council meeting, Chamber Executive Director Tawni Thomson painted an optimistic picture of what the agency “has been up to,” including local and Southern California events, a new hiking publication, an international TV spot and upcoming public mixers and meetings.
Starting with the Visitors Bureau, Thomson said the agency is seeing usage similar to that of the last two years – 686 January walk-ins with February “on track to be very close to 2013” numbers. With a normal-for-this-time-of-year daily average of 25-30 visitors, “it’s pretty quiet, but that is OK because we have many projects in the works.”
The bureau hosted an information booth at this past weekend’s Central Valley Sportsmen’s Expo in Bakersfield, a show “with lots of RVs, hunting and fishing gear, ATVs – pretty much anything that appeals to outdoor recreation enthusiasts,” Thomson said. Visitors bureau representatives lured in expo-goers by distributing publications such as the Eastern Sierra Fishing Guide, Treasure Maps and Bishop Vacation Planners.  The bureau partnered with Vagabond Inn, 1030 N. Main St., and Motel 6, 1005 N. Main St., holding a raffle with prizes of free local accommodations. “It’s a great way to gather contact information that we’ll use for future marketing efforts,” Thomson said of the raffle.
Bureau staff will also man a booth at the Wednesday, March 5 through Sunday, March 9 Fred Hall Ultimate Outdoor Experience Show at the Long Beach Convention Center, with the help of chamber accountant Dave Patterson and Visitor Center Host Joe Pollini. Thomson thanked “two key volunteers” who assist with the chamber’s attendance at the event: Jeff Thomson, chief of Inyo County Probation Department, and Steve Shibley of Bishop Country Club.
Pre-registration numbers for the 47th Annual Blake Jones Trout Derby, which kicks off on Saturday, March 15, are strong. Chamber Events Coordinator April Leeson “has been doing a great job” of processing the various fish stocking permits and documents, event advertising and working with co-sponsors and prize donors, Thomson said.  She expressed gratitude for the Inyo County’s Community Project Sponsorship Program, or CPSP, grant funding that helped offset some major event expenses, such as $3,000-plus for fish stocking; hundreds of dollars for permits, fees and insurance; and thousands for advertising. “I think many people don’t realize how much planning and investment goes into an event of this scale,” Thomson said. Nor would Blake Jones be possible without “generous” co-sponsorship by many local merchants and some national manufacturers. It’s all worthwhile, however, because Blake Jones “will draw close to 1,000 people here in the middle of our slowest season.”
Thomson distributed copies of the visitor center’s new CPSP-funded “Easy Hiking Trails in the Eastern Sierra,” explaining that it was “developed for the less athletic scenic walkers.” She thanked Pollini for “his dedicated work” in finding and photographing trails, composing narrative and laying out the brochure and Debi Yerkes of Alex Printing for creative additions. Fifteen thousand copies of “Easy Hiking” are being distributed.
On an international note, a Fish Eye Productions film crew from Rome, Italy is slated to shoot footage in California for an Italian travel channel segment. “They’ll travel from Tahoe area, through Mammoth and Mono County, with one day in Owens Valley then on to Death Valley and Joshua Tree.” The bureau helped the crew find Keough’s Hot Springs tent cabin lodging, suggested sights to see and provided Furnace Creek, Death Valley contacts.
Then it was on to the report on the Chamber of Commerce, which has also attracted some long-distance interest. The Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Nev. recently joined Bishop’s Brock’s Fly Fishing Specialists in becoming new chamber members.
Monthly chamber board meetings and networking luncheons have started rotating to the various member restaurants that can accommodate the group. The next monthly, open-to-the-public chamber board meeting and $12-per-person luncheon will be held on Thursday, March 20 at Astorga’s Mexican Restaurant, 2206 N. Sierra Hwy. Always held on the third Thursday of the month, board meetings start at 11 a.m. followed by noon luncheons. 
Chamber after-hours mixers are also open to the public. This month’s mixer will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 27 at Simplicity Salon, 175 Academy St.
For more information about Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau doings, call (760) 873-8405 or visit www.BishopVisitor.com or at 690 N. Main St., open weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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