A day of celebrating the community’s accomplishments and potential for the future began early Friday when Lynnette Braillard unveiled Del Norte County’s new brand and logo.

At the 16th-annual Economic Summit, the Vertigo Marketing representative gave a breakdown of travel spending both statewide and locally along with the amount of tax revenue California and Del Norte County’s tourism industry netted respectively as well as the number of people working in the field.

Braillard noted that the amount of travel spending in California has grown 32 percent since 2010 to more than $132 billion in 2017. In Del Norte County, the amount of travel spending has grown 20 percent since 2010 to $132 million in 2017.

“We would love to see that number match the state of California’s travel growth,” Braillard said, adding that the Del Norte County Visitor Bureau’s new website, visitdelnortecounty.com, will soft launch next week and launch officially April 1. “Our goal would be able to get us up to the 32 percent margin.”

Hosted by the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, the economic summit included a panel discussion on the state of the city, county and harbor; a brief discussion about the state of local real estate and an update on Last Chance Grade, healthcare and education from State Sen. Mike McGuire. But it was Del Norte County’s future as a tourism destination most speakers and presenters were concerned with, including Adam Goldstein, who founded the travel website Hipmunk with Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman in 2010 and sold it in 2016.

Goldstein said he recently purchased his first home in Crescent City along with another piece of property. He said he was introduced to Crescent City after an airline route blog announced that United Express had cancelled its flights to Del Norte County.

“I thought to myself, where’s that?” Goldstein said, who lives in San Francisco and decided to visit Crescent City. “I booked one of the last flights up and I absolutely was astonished. The first thing I did when I came up here was I hiked the Damnation Creek Trail and I thought, this is the greatest hike in the entire state and I’ve never heard of it and there’s no one else on the trail, how is this real?”

Goldstein said he was looking for a place to invest when he learned about Contour launching flights from Oakland to Crescent City and wound up purchasing a home locally. Referring to a recent announcement from the airline that it would offer more flights into and out of Del Norte County this summer, Goldstein noted that it’s unusual for a new flight to establish itself in an area with no air service and within a year increase in numbers.

“It’s a sign that there’s something exciting happening here,” he said, adding that for Bay Area residents Crescent City could be as competitive as other destination locales such as Monterey and Napa and “way more compelling” than Lake Tahoe, especially to millennials. “There’s a huge potential to turn this into an even bigger tourism destination, starting with the flights, hopefully expanding the flights and then bringing people up from the Bay Area, from elsewhere.”

Goldstein noted that what’s established can change quickly. Within a few months Hipmunk reached 1 million visitors per month among a demographic of travelers that “didn’t feel a loyalty to their parents’ travel website.” Locally, he pointed out, the fact that Redwood National and State Parks “is not Yosemite is a huge selling point.”

Taking advantage of Del Norte County’s lofty redwood trees, roaring rivers and rugged coastline and marketing them to visitors was Vertigo Marketing’s goal, Braillard said. Noting that the firm has also worked with Visit Bend, Visit Port Angeles and large shopping districts and lodging companies, she said Del Norte County’s outdoor recreation economy has the potential for a lot of growth, noting that spending on outdoor recreation was $878 billion nationally and the outdoor recreation industry employs 7.6 million people.

Vertigo Marketing’s goal for Del Norte County is to “turn assets into attractions,” Braillard said, especially for off-season travelers. Her firm is in the process of developing video that will market the area as well as a new map and brochure pamphlet. She told summit attendees that their job was to get tourists to visit their local businesses.

The visitors bureau has a three-year $100,000 a year contract with Vertigo Marketing, said Sarah Caron, executive director of the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce. The bureau is already through year-one of its three-year contract with Vertigo Marketing.

Meanwhile, Nate Adams, representative with the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission gave a breakdown of the direct and indirect economic impact to Del Norte County, which was chosen as one of the locations for Bird Box. The thriller that starred Sandra Bullock and aired on Netflix in December was shot on the Smith River and in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in early 2018.

According to Adams, the film crew spent $901,892 while shooting Bird Box in Del Norte County, staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants. The film commission estimated that the indirect economic impact to the community from Bird Box was $2.6 million.

About 45 million Netflix accounts accessed Bird Box during its first week of streaming in December, according to Adams. A month after it first appeared online, 80 million Netflix accounts had watched Bird Box, he said.

Adams noted that Bird Box was one of four movies shot on the North Coast in 2018, a first for the area. Other movies filmed in 2018 locally include Primal Rage and A Wrinkle in Time, he said.

Reach Jessica Cejnar jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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