City officials review chamber tourism expenses

Pinnacles raptor

The San Benito County chamber’s executive director Monday told Hollister council members how the organization has spent more than $66,000 in taxpayer funds allocated over the past year or so from the city for tourism efforts.
Executive Director Juli Vieira ran down a long list of expenditures with the money allocated by the city for the chamber to use toward tourism that included such items as more than 1,000 visitor gift bags handed out at various events, establishing a new website, launching social media pages on sites such as Facebook or Instagram, paid partnerships for publicity in a magazine and a presence on MyYosemitePark.com.
She also talked about ideas moving forward and showed council members such plans as a trailer that can travel to festivals with Pinnacles National Park promoted on one side and Old Mission San Juan Bautista on the other; radio and TV ads in central and southern California; guided birdwatching tours; a barn tour; and a professional directory of chamber members that also promotes tourism.
“If we want to bring people to our community, we have to spend the money to get the job done,” Vieira said.
Vieira mentioned how she is receiving funds from the county, San Juan Bautista and City of Hollister for tourism and would seek more again from those groups. About two-thirds of the funds have come from Hollister, though, which spurred questions from council members about a lacking presence of the city’s name on the trailer.
“We’re carrying two-thirds of the cost of everything in your proposed budget, and it doesn’t say ‘Hollister’ on anything on the trailer,” Klauer said.
Councilwoman Mickie Luna requested to sit down individually with Vieira to go over the spending ideas. She agreed with Klauer about the Hollister name on the trailer.
“We’ve got to put that name out there,” Luna said.
Councilman Ray Friend said Vieira did an outstanding job with the presentation whether or not council members agree with all the specific expenses.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez added that he would like to see the city offer more help with local homeowners looking to rent their properties on sites like Airbnb.
Chamber board Chairwoman Frankie Gallagher finished the discussion by underscoring how Vieira “held the whole office” together for the first year and has accomplished her tourism efforts in just 18 months.
“We need to give her a lot of accolades for what she’s accomplished,” Gallagher said.

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