|Local tourism down slightly from last year|
|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Thursday, 28 July 2011 17:00|
The Camp Verde Visitor Center saw a slight drop in the number of people walking through the doors between the beginning of April and the end of June compared with the same period last year.
The visitor center is in the same town-owned Main Street office that houses the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce, and while the two are separate entities, the chamber is in charge of running the center for the town.
Tracie Schimikowsky reported last week the center greeted 2,412 people in the three-month period between April and June.
That was down from 2,581 between April and June 2010, a drop-off of about 6.5 percent.
The biggest drop in visitation was from tourists who live in the United States but outside of Arizona. That group was represented by 1,288 people, down from 1,571 the same period a year before.
“It seems to be a bit of a trend. We’re not seeing as many out-of-Arizona travelers,” Schimikowsky said.
That might have something to do with the economy and gas prices. Schimikowsky said despite the drop in visitors from outside Arizona, there’s been a boost in visitors who live locally, those who live in Arizona and visitors from other countries.
“It’s a nice surprise,” Schimikowsky said, talking about the number of locals coming into the center.
Schimikowsky said the center also asked people about the average length of their stay in Camp Verde. About one-third of the people who come into the visitor center are spending the night in town. Of those, regular travelers are staying about two nights, travelers in recreational vehicles stay an average of 10 nights and people staying in town with friends and relatives stay around three and a half nights.
Overall, people are spending an average of 14 nights in Arizona.
The chamber is also spending around $20,000 on marketing and advertising in an effort to get people from other places to learn about Camp Verde and ideally, come for a visit.
Schimikowsky said there have been more than 4,500 inquiries about Camp Verde on the tourism site Go-Arizona.com with most coming from Arizona, Texas, California, Illinois and New York. Based on that, Schimikowsky said she’s going to look at advertising more in Texas and California.
The town is also being advertised in a variety of publications, including everything from visitor guides to a magazine targeted at Canadian grandparents.
Overall, Schimikowsky said that ads for Camp Verde are in publications with a total combined circulation of 3.5 million, bringing 176 potential sets of eyes for every dollar invested by the town.
Schimkowsky also calculated that for the prior year, visitors who come into the visitor center are spending about $235 in the local economy a day, bringing in around $177,000 in tax revenue to the town.
As far as promotion goes, Schimikowsky said the organization is looking at spending at least $2,500 to participate in a program aimed at targeting the Japanese market with information about the region.
The chamber and center have also been involved in various other mailings and press tours that have spread the word about Camp Verde, said Schimikowsky, who estimates she spends nearly 70 percent of her time marketing the town.
Visitation was slightly up at Fort Verde State Historic Park during the same three-month period, at 3,474 tourists compared with 3,350 during the same period in 2010. According to a report from Park Manager Sheila Stubler, attendance at parks across the state and nation is generally down.
The park has also stayed busy with its employees and volunteers working to maintain the 19th century military post, Stubler said.
The fort recently put new roof tiles on some of the property, made improvements to the old patient ward and recruited eight new players to its vintage baseball team, a group that plays America’s pastime in accordance with 19th century rules.
Camp Verde Town Manager Russ Martin said that Valerie House, a town employee who has coordinated efforts between the town and fort to keep things running, will be moving on to a new job elsewhere.
“[House] certainly has made it very easy to work with the town,” Stubler said, also taking a moment to thank all the people who have worked to help keep the fort open.
The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission also gave a report to the Camp Verde Town Council, reporting on how it spent a good deal of time discussing the issue of medical marijuana and how the town would handle this type of business in its codes and regulations.