The California tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but travel organizations like Visit Yolo plan and plan for the future.
Terry Selk, Executive Director of Visit Yolo, said they have renamed and revamped their outreach strategies since joining the organization in 2018. Selk said they had to take a step back and change their strategy when the pandemic broke out.
“We really focused on using our resources to help the local businesses that were still open and operating,” he said. “We have created a resources page that includes information about which businesses are open, as well as operating and financial assistance information for businesses that need help.”
Visitor spending reached $ 454.3 million and supported 5,219 jobs in Yolo County in 2019, according to the California Travel Impacts report produced by Dean Runyan Associates for Visit California.
$ 85.9 billion in visitor spending in California and $ 6.3 billion in travel-related tax collections were cut, amid the pandemic Travel matters.
Selk said there was a time when their resources page was the most visited page on their website.
“We felt like some of the information was (a) duplicate of what others were doing, but that’s not a bad thing,” he said. “The more places you can put this information, the better so that more people can see it.”
While this shift to helping local businesses stay afloat was necessary, they did not want to lose the momentum they had built before the pandemic.
“We created this news series that says, ‘If you are ready to travel, this is why you should come to Yolo County,'” Selk said.
Selk said they had started developing strategies and various bases that would help develop a new one Storytelling series Highlighting companies and local entrepreneurs, creating a series of guest blogs, and reaching out to clients and clients to let them know about anything new they are developing in their field Itineraries.
Now that things seem to be getting better and more people want to travel, Visit Yolo has started changing its strategy back to getting more people to visit Yolo County. Woodland Dining Pass is one of his new strategies aimed at getting more people, local or not, to visit and experience the Woodland food scene.
“We have recruited restaurants in Woodland to participate in a savings card that customers can download for free,” said Selk. “Basically, it gives people, locals and travelers the opportunity to sample the culinary variety and cuisine of Woodland.”
Dining options include Burger Saloon, Doggeros, and Maria’s Cantina.
“Food is a very powerful influence, and we certainly have an incredible depth of uniqueness,” said Selk. “We are the hub of this incredible agrotourism experience that not many other places can stand behind.”
Another strategy that Visit Yolo has been focusing on lately is this Sunflower action which aims to get people to see the county’s sunflower blossom while educating people to use it responsibly.
“It had failed to coach visitors who come in to take a selfie photo with sunflowers and teach them how to be a good visitor, respect the farmer’s property and not intrude,” he said. “At the same time, informing about the purpose of the harvest and highlighting companies in Yolo County that are creating experiences around the sunflower harvest.”
Visit Yolo has been working on this campaign for nine months to ensure that visitors feel welcome but are also more aware of their actions when visiting sunflower fields.
The last strategy mentioned by Selk was an international one aimed at getting people from European countries to see Yolo County as the travel destination they want to visit.
“It takes longer to facilitate international travel, but what it entails is a longer stay and a higher amount,” said Selk.
Selk said he has 33 years of experience working with travel sellers and influencers in other countries promoting travel to the United States. He said he gave access to these groups of people, some of whom have shown interest and have included Yolo County on their itineraries.
“Much of this happened just before and during the pandemic,” he said. “The encouraging sign is that the customers we won fell in love with what they saw.”
Selk said many international people are trained to come to Napa Valley to enjoy the wine experience and its status, but once they have they usually want a different and more authentic experience.
“They make up a small fraction of the traffic to California, but they make up a large fraction of the dollars actually spent,” he said.
Selk believes the Yolo County’s tourism industry is on the up, which is a good thing given what has been going on over the past year.