The number of visitors to Del Norte increased for the third year in a row in 2013, according to the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.
A surfer enjoys January’s frequent sunshine on Pebble Beach earlier this month. Many people are driving here to escape inland fog. Del Norte Triplicate file / Bryant Anderson
More than 22,000 people visited the visitors center on Front Street last year, said Executive Director Jeff Parmer. This shows a steady rise from 19,000 visitors in 2012, 18,000 in 2011 and 17,000 in 2010.
“We had a really good October,” said Parmer. “Normally after Labor Day we close for the weekends. But we stayed open on the weekends through October, at least up through Sea Cruise, and it did make a big difference to the number of people coming through.”
Meanwhile, January seems to be busier than usual so far, Parmer said. January is typically the visitors center’s slowest month, so much so that it’s closed on the weekends. But this month, up to 25 tourists a day have come through the chamber’s doors, he said.
Many visitors are escaping the fog of Grants Pass and Medford and heading to the coast, Parmer said.
“I watch Channel 5 news out of Medford and the weather man lately this month has always been talking about the coast as being the place to be,” he said. “Compared to our temperatures being in the 60s — and we hit 70 one day last week — and they’re stuck in fog and the upper 20s/low 30s. We’re getting promoted by the weather man on Channel 5, so that helps.”
One reason for the steadily increasing number of visitors could be that more people know about Del Norte County than before, Parmer said.
The Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is part of the North Coast Tourism Council, which includes Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties. Its members attend travel shows in the U.S. and abroad, trying to convince visitors to fly into San Francisco and drive up the coast, Parmer said.
The Visitors Bureau also advertises in travel magazines, Parmer said.
The bureau also provided an extra incentive for folks to stop by on their way through town, he said.
“We printed rack cards that were distributed along the coast from Coos Bay down to Marin County and along the I-5 corridor from Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland and down into Redding,” Parmer said. “It’s two-sided. One side features Crescent City and the Battery Point Lighthouse and the other side features the redwoods. And we put a thing on those to tell people to come by and get a free gift at the visitors center.”
Tourists coming into the visitors center with those cards received a token with the chamber logo on one side and the lighthouse on the other.
Parmer said one of the highlights for this year will be Del Norte County’s hosting the California Outdoor Writers Conference in the fall. Outdoor writers, bloggers and photographers will visit the area, bringing with them the potential for tremendous exposure, he said. He spoke with a woman who spearheaded last year’s conference in Tuolumne County, which was featured on the back page of the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section.
“To buy that kind of coverage would probably blow our whole budget,” he said. “But we got confirmation for that. We’re just now going to start planning it. The more we can get the name of Del Norte County out there, the most beneficial it will be in the long run.”