By Scott Graves
WesCom News Service
The Brookings City Council has approved plans to spend $34,000 in marketing and advertising to attract more tourists to the area.
The council voted 4-1, with Councilor Kelly McClain dissenting, to approve recommendations by the Tourism Promotion Advisory Committee for the 2013-14 fiscal years.
The recommendations included:
• Spending $17,500 for an advertising campaign that would include a year-long series of television spots on Charter Cable that promote events and things to do in Brookings. The city will contract with a group or individual to develop the advertising.
• Spending $10,500 to develop 20 minutes of video in four or more segments depicting the Brookings area and placed on social media sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
• Spending $6,000 to entice individuals or private groups to host events during the off season that would attract visitors. This might include basketball tournaments, festivals and other events that can be held inside during inclement weather.
The eight-person tourism committee was formed in November to develop and make recommendations to the city regarding tourism marketing and promotion. The city had previously contracted with the Brookings Chamber of Commerce for such services.
Several City Council members, before voting Monday, expressed their concern that the recommendations did not including anything new or different from what the city has done before, said City Manager Gary Milliman.
“The council approved it, but several council members were expecting something different. Something more outside of the box,” Milliman said.
McClain was one of those people.
“I appreciate what the (tourism) committee has done — they put tons of time into it, but it’s too similar to what we’ve always done,” McClain said.
Instead of marketing to people who live outside of the area, in cities along the I-5 corridor such as Medford and Eugene, more should be done to encourage people already driving along the coast to stop and stay awhile in Brookings, McClain said.
While he understood the need for some advertising in distant places, he suggested more of the money be spent on road signage advertising local activities and events, as well as beautification efforts, such as flower baskets along the highway.
“We don’t have a lot of money, so the focus should be on convincing those already driving along the highway to check out our town,” he said.
The city worked with the chamber for years to market the area and after the city dissolved that relationship last year, it had an estimated $35,000 a year to spend on tourism marketing and advertising. The money is generated by a “bed tax” assessed on people staying in hotels, inns and RV parks and, under city ordinance, 25 percent must be spent to promote tourism.
With the council’s approval Monday, the tourism committee will send out requests for proposal from individuals or businesses interested in doing the work.
The committee will then review the proposals and submit final recommendations to the City Council at a future workshop. The committee would recommend grant funding to organizers of events that have potential for sustainability.