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Santa Rosa businesses see boost from tourism campaign

  • Casie Tompioner of Santa Rosa, left and her boyfriend Will Moncada of Cloverdale used the Flamingo Hotel as a staycation, Wednesday May 9, 2012 in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa Tourism Bureau engaged in a beefed up advertising blitz promoting the city's attractions and hotels, in which the Flamingo benefitted. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Santa Rosa's hotels, restaurants and attractions are getting a boost from a new program to promote the county's largest city as a tourist destination.

The city's room tax receipts grew almost 7 percent last year, Brad Calkins, director of the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced Wednesday.

"In this tough economy, that's a lot of jobs we're creating," he told guests at a Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

The city created a "tourism business improvement area" in late 2010 to fund visitor programs with a 3 percent increase in the city's hotel room tax.

The tax raised $3.4 million last year, with about $782,000 going to the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The cash infusion allowed the bureau to expand its visitor-attraction efforts, Calkins said Wednesday. The bureau hired a sales director, spent more money on advertising and started a social media campaign, he said.

The efforts paid off with an additional 450 room-nights sold last year, Calkins said. Hotel revenues grew by $2.4 million in 2011, and total visitor spending was up by $6.9 million, he said.

Hotels have added 146 jobs in the past year, he said.

He forecast more growth this year with the Amgen Tour of California in Santa Rosa this weekend and other upcoming events expected to draw tourists to the city.

The tourism bureau is part of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. It also operates the California Welcome Center in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, one of 20 official tourism centers across the state.


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