Destination: Modesto – Pack Your Bags!
Modesto has a plan to increase tourism, and you play a big part in its success. All you have to do is talk about local attractions as you go about your everyday life.
Tourism is important because Modesto has a lot to offer — and a lot to gain.
“More than 235 million people traveled in California in 2013,” reports Jennifer Mullen, executive director of the Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They spent about $109.6 billion, generating about $2.8 billion in local tax revenues and $4.3 billion in state tax revenues and employing nearly a million people in the travel industry.”
In the 2012-13 fiscal year, hotel guests paid $1,860,575 in transient occupancy taxes to Modesto, most of which went into the general fund that provides for fire, police, sidewalks, and other essentials.
“Tourism brings new business into town and creates and sustains a diverse range of jobs,” Mullen says. “And tourism jobs can never be outsourced — they are designed to be local and stay local.”
Tourism is cost effective because the city doesn’t have to build an infrastructure for tourists, Mullen adds. “They bring their visitor dollars into our community and it’s our job to get them to stay as long as possible.”
Tourism not only involves the leisure traveler on vacation, it includes anyone who visits and spends money in our community for accommodations, recreation, entertainment, food, and transportation, from business travelers to sporting event spectators to golfers, film crews, and even families in town for the day while their kids play youth sports.
“I strongly believe that tourism is the missing link to a strong regional economic development strategy,” says Keith D. Boggs, assistant executive officer for Stanislaus County and founder of the Stanislaus Regional Tourism Roundtable. “All tourism activities generate interest, and interest ultimately generates dialogue, word-of-mouth, and visits — and visits and returning visits generate revenue.”
While technology has revolutionized tourism, the human experience has become more valuable than ever.
“Today and into the future, the Internet will be the battlefield for securing the American and international traveler,” Boggs says. “People don’t care about towns, counties, cities, or anything municipal; they want to have real life experiences. Travelers won’t go out of their way to visit Modesto — but they will go out of their way to see the birthplace of American Graffiti.”
“Gone is the era of marketing a ‘gateway’ or claiming ‘something for everyone,’ ” Boggs adds. “These approaches instantly tune the travel consumer out. We need to focus on what unique experiences we offer that no one, nowhere else can provide.”
Mullen notes that social media is valuable in spreading the word. “If someone takes a photo at an event and talks about it in their own social network, you could have more people attend from that activity alone compared to traditional marketing efforts.”
There’s a lot that you can do to increase tourism.
“Be a superhero, promote our region positively to the clubs and organizations that you belong to, and encourage them to consider Modesto as a place to hold a convention or meeting,” suggests Mullen, who creates sample itineraries for tours and groups. “It’s competitive out there, and the growth of local tourism will depend on us keeping Modesto in the minds of travelers.”
“Perception continues to be a key variable to any and all tourism efforts in our region,” Boggs adds. “All county residents need to become ambassadors to local events and activities. The more that we celebrate our local culture, art and entertainment sectors, the more the greater region, and ultimately the world, will begin to take notice. Our success begins with us.”