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Center breaks visitor records
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Monday, 02 August 2010 07:00

The Camp Verde Visitor Center continued to break records for the number of people coming through the door during the last quarter of the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to data released last week by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tracie Schimikowsky.

Carolanne Moore, the visitor services coordinator for the Camp Verde Visitor Center, recounts a story Sunday, July 25, in which Buster the bear’s tongue was broken accidentally by a curious tourist. Moore said she has seen an increase in the number of European tourists on Southwest tours coming through the visitor center this summer.April brought 1,063 visitors to the center looking for information. May and June brought 820 and 698 respectively.

“These are record numbers,” Schimikowsky said. “We’re up 12 percent over last year.”

People are staying for several days in Camp Verde when they come to visit, Schimikowsky said. Based on a survey answered by 58 visitors in June, the average length of a stay in town was five days.

The center is operated by the Chamber of Commerce, though it is technically a separate entity. The chamber is also responsible for advertising Camp Verde as a great place to visit.

Over the past year the chamber has undertaken several advertising campaigns, thanks in part to grant funding from the Arizona Department of Tourism.

The chamber spent around $3,000 in the fall on a brochure ad that had a circulation of 825,000. The same amount was spent on a campaign attempting to entice Canadians to visit Camp Verde; that effort had a circulation of around 462,000.

The chamber also organized several other advertisements in publications like the Phoenix Official Visitors Guide and others that target Arizona.

Along with magazines, the chamber has been working with a service that sends out press releases about the town.
The chamber has also been taking advantage of the Internet to reach as many eyes as possible. Camp Verde was highlighted on Go-Arizona.com, a tourism website that registered 1.8 million hits, Schimikowsky said.
Meanwhile, the chamber’s own website, VisitCampVerde.com, saw 23,500 visitors.

The chamber’s advertising efforts will be curtailedsomewhat this year, Schimikowsky said. The current economic environment and the financial difficulties the state faces mean there is no more matching grant money available for the chamber to use.

“The office of tourism has suspended all grants,” Schimikowsky said.

The chamber is hoping to fund visitor center and marketing operations with money collected from the town’s hotel tax, a practice used by other communities around the state. The last fiscal year is projected to bring in around $110,000 to local coffers. That’s more than a 20 percent decrease over the previous year, something Schimikowsky blames partly on the closure of a hotel out on the State Route 260 and I-17 interchange.

A new brochure to sell Camp Verde was printed at a cost of around $10,000 to be placed at rest stops, visitor centers, and rental car agencies.

Resident Howard Parish told the Camp Verde Town Council last week following the chamber’s quarterly report that he carries around a stack of brochures and makes a point of leaving them in different hotels when he travels out of town.

The new brochure highlights Camp Verde’s central location, along with local attractions like Fort Verde State Historic Park, Montezuma Castle, Out of Africa and Cliff Castle Casino. The foldout also showcases the natural wonders in the area, from the river to hiking trails. The brochure also encourages visitors to check out the Verde Valley Wine Trail, a tour of different vineyards throughout the area.

A separate leaflet is also in circulation, calling itself the Camp Verde “bucket list.”

It’s a list of 50 things to do in Camp Verde, and it’s something even residents might want to check out if they ever find themselves looking for something to do.

From canoe races to bird watching and star gazing to off-road adventuring, the list is fairly comprehensive.
Councilwoman Carol German, who serves as the town’s liaison to the chamber, said she was impressed by the chamber’s efforts in putting Camp Verde’s face out to the world.

“It’s something that really pays,” German said.

 

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