Mono County’s Tourism Commission held a quick, but intensive meeting Tuesday morning. The Commission took care of a brief review of its budget plan, which will go before the BOS during the County’s budget hearings starting next week.
A handful of key Policy Requests will be put before the Board, including adding back in a full-time Economic Development Assistant, namely current Intern Jeff Simpson, who is already handling web content management, social media, coordination of print and other PR collateral for visitation, fishing-related marketing and Yosemite partnership outreach, among numerous other duties. Funding to reinstate the position, which Mono County Economic Development Manager Alicia Vennos said she hopes would be a straight-across move for Simpson that wouldn’t require any further application or interview process, is already in the budget.
Economic Development Director Dan Lyster will push hard for approval of $25,000 for recently hired Strategic Marketing Group consultants to produce and Economic Development Strategic Plan and a Marketing Plan Element as part of a Mono County application for a National Scenic Byway Designation.
Also up for funding is $5,000 for an annual contribution by the County to support its part of the InterAgency Visitor Center located in Lone Pine, which serves as something of an Eastern Sierra “gateway” to many U.S. 395 travelers. A lesser consideration, but one Lyster wants to pitch anyway, is $5,000 for the County’s exhibit entry into the California State Fair. The County has won awards for its exhibits during the last couple of years, though Lyster acknowledges it’s a more of a nicety, but arguably of lesser import than other requests. “We’ll try for the whole $22,000, but we’ll push for the first $17,000 for sure,” he forecast.
And in demographic developments, one group that might not immediately spring to mind is becoming a major player in Mono County’s visitor tapestry: the French. During a recent visit to the area, representatives from French tourism promotion group M&N, which essentially markets the Eastern Sierra over there, was pleased to find results of their handiwork everywhere. “They ran into French visitors in every nook and cranny of Mono County,” Vennos noted. A tour of the Bodie Stamp Mill was even conducted in French by one of the Park Rangers, who never imagined when he was assigned to the post that his bilingualism in French would ever come in that handy.
The full Tourism budget request will be presented to the Board next week.