We must rebuild our economy to build a healthy community
A capacity crowd filled the Harbor Light Lodge conference room as Carl Ribaudo from SMG Consulting sought community input on his Fort Bragg Tourism Marketing research and planning efforts. He utilizes a community based approach as he develops a strategic plan to promote the Fort Bragg area and increase tourism visitation.
This research project is gathering input from a variety of sources to identify current visitors by sending out a lodging survey and collecting feedback from this workshop. He is also gathering information to profile the assets that entice both current and future travelers to our community. It appears that he will take the data he collects and combine it with his extensive marketing research to develop a strategic plan to help Fort Bragg develop its brand and communicate it to our potential markets.
The group, which included a variety of people from nonprofits, recreation, lodging, media and retail businesses, created a long list of assets that make our area attractive to visitors, as well as some of the challenges expanding tourism presents. Some of the interesting ideas and facts that emerged included:
- It is important to be different to distinguish our areas from other destinations
- Cultural aspects of the community are vital to attracting tourism
- Promote and expand history, art, events, music, photography, theater as well as current activities and attractions
- Rethink our assets to be more creative and attractive
- Develop new or expand activities and the accommodations to service them including mountain biking, regional park as motocross facility, ocean sports
- Families only represent 30% of the tourist market
- Millennial market is crucial and can be vital with fairly high disposable incomes
- We are a perfect baby boomer visitor/retirement destination except for healthcare access
- Cannabis legalization will impact tourism, especially with artisan branding and complimentary products
Mr. Ribaudo had two final thoughts that had a considerable impact on me. First, we are no longer a “step child” to Mendocino as we have a broad base of affordable accommodations and activities in Fort Bragg, although we do need to market the Mendocino Coast as a collaborative region to be successful. The only way to fail is to be fearful and not open to change, which can be a challenge in our community.
We are at a defining moment on the Mendocino Coast. The natural resource extraction industries this community was built on and thrived from are virtually gone now. We must transition our economy to a stable and sustainable financial system which can provide living wage employment. Given our unique natural beauty, the exciting activities and facilities we already have and can enhance, being a recreation destination is vital to reviving our community. So, be proud of who we are, rethink our assets creatively, act collaboratively, be open to change and participate in the process!