Just two months in, and it already appears that 2013 may be a promising year on the tourism front.
Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau Director Tawni Thomson told the Bishop City Council Monday that the Visitors Bureau is seeing more walk-in traffic in February and March of 2013 than it did the previous year. She also said that the Chamber of Commerce, which serves a different function than the Visitors Bureau, is in the process of adding one new program and improving its presence on the Internet.
Thomson said that the Visitors Bureau saw more than 700 visitors in January, which is generally a slower time for the bureau. She also said that the bureau’s website is seeing an average of 250 unique hits a day. Since the first of the year, she said that 35 people from out of the area have contacted the bureau to request information on recreational opportunities in the Eastern Sierra.
The Visitors Bureau also added an online store to its website in January. Thomson said that, as of Monday, there were no sales to report, but she hopes that as the summer tourist season picks up and web traffic increases, there may be more activity in the virtual store.
“The next couple of months are going to be busy for us,” Thomson said. “We have the Fred Hall Sports Show up next from March 5-10” where volunteers will distribute visitors information and the owner of the Vagabond Inn and Motel 6 will be offering a raffle where participants can win stays in the local hotels.
Following the Fred Hall Show, the Visitors Bureau staff will head straight into the Blake Jones Trout Derby March 16 at Pleasant Valley Reservoir. In preparation for that event, Thomson said her staff has contacted all registered participants from 2011 and 2012. She said registration is already up from what it was last year, and this year’s event is promising to be a success.
From the Blake Jones, Thomson said the bureau will dive directly into preparations for the fishing opener in April by organizing the Rainbow Days trout derby in the park, and inviting outdoor writers from all across the county to the region to get a first-hand taste of fishing opener action. The hope, Thomson said, is to promote the area to the writers and generate press for the Sierra’s angling opportunities.
After the Opener, the bureau will begin looking at its summer activities, which include the California High School Rodeo Finals in June.
But catering to visitors is only half of Thomson’s job.
She said the Chamber of Commerce has been busy organizing its new resident welcome program, which is almost ready to toll out. Thomson said gift baskets for new residents have been prepared and the next step is to make contact with local real estate agents and create a system for contacting new residents when they move to town.
Thomson is now doing monthly updates with the Bishop City Council and will return in March with a progress report and information on how the month’s events went.