Can we afford two tourism web sites?

Feather Publishing

Plumas Corporation and the county’s merchants should be applauded for stepping up to fill the tourism marketing void created after the visitors bureau was shut down.

At a meeting last week, they devised a plan to keep the county’s popular tourism website alive without relying on the county funding that was cut off in January.

While the Board of Supervisors reviews a stack of proposals to create a new — and potentially temporary — marketing website from scratch, local merchants have launched a grassroots effort to resurrect the popular and proven site. And they are paying for it themselves.

In just 48 hours, the county’s merchants, lodging providers and concerned citizens wrote checks for $1,600. And they said they have pledges for even more money. In two days they raised enough money to keep the site alive for a couple months.

Businesses that rely on tourism have been pleading with the supervisors to keep the website alive. They argue the county owes them at least that much for the million dollars of bed taxes they annually generate. In just a few years, the county whittled its former $250,000 contribution to the visitors bureau down to zero.

Times are financially tough right now. But we question the supervisors’ wisdom of firing the county’s marketing team. The cost in lost tourism revenue could eventually outweigh the immediate savings.

Many lodging providers swear by the business they get from the referrals. They have the statistics to prove it.

We would like to see the county reward its citizens’ effort to revive the website by providing a little financial support. Instead of spending $7,500 to build a new website from scratch, the supervisors should scrap that plan, kick in $2,500 to the website and stick the other $5,000 back in the county’s general fund.

The investment makes sense. First of all, the supervisors haven’t committed to funding a new website past June 30. Any new website would take weeks or months to get up to speed. And the board hasn’t even picked a company to build a site yet.

In reality, the county could end up paying $7,500 for a website that might only be online for a month. Why waste money on a rental car when you already have a Ferrari in the garage?

The website is still online and ready to go. Lodging providers say they are still getting referrals from the site even though it hasn’t been updated since January.

The supervisors justified shutting down the visitors bureau because it wasn’t a county department. They said they wanted more control over the marketing website. But they also said nobody can market businesses as well as the businesses themselves. If the county’s struggling tourism-related businesses value a website enough to write $100 checks to save it, the county should take note. The board should trust the community on this one and show its support.

In addition to a county contribution, we would like to see more businesses show their support. If all the lodging providers who say they have benefited from would donate the equivalent of one night’s stay at their place, we think it would be money well spent.

Checks should be made out to Plumas Corporation. You can reach Plumas Corporation at (530) 283-3739.


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