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Our View: Businesses need to unify on tourism plan

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A group of Auburn leaders and business owners are on the right track when it comes to wanting to promote the city as a tourist destination – especially to a growing number of visitors from China.
To really make the idea flourish into a successful one, there will need to be increased teamwork and communication among Auburn’s business community.
In a recent Journal story, City Councilman Mike Holmes said he’d like the city to appeal to tourists from China, who are expected to visit California more in the coming years.
In 2011, an estimated 517,000 visitors came to the state from China. That number is projected to double by 2015. That’s an encouraging statistic combined with the figure that an average Chinese citizen spends about $6,000 on each trip, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Some Old Town businesses have already started to capitalize on those figures. Since October, Bootleggers Old Town Tavern & Grill has coordinated with a tourism company to bring 500 visitors to its business.
During one of these visits, Richard Yue, who is president of the Joss House Chinese Museum located in Old Town Auburn, was asked to keep the facility open on the weekend so visitors could stop by. Great idea, but Yue waited and no one showed up.
“The right hand is going to have to know what the left hand is doing if you bring them in here, because tourists are going to go where you point them,” Yue told the Journal.
Yue is right. If you’re going to bring in more tourists with the goal of showing Auburn as a great destination and not a pass-through city, you must work to show them all that the city and its surrounding area has to offer. And that means coordinating and working with all business owners and nonprofits to make that happen.
One way to do that is have a leader from each of Auburn’s business associations get together at regular meetings monthly or every other month to create and implement a unified strategy.
What about pooling member association fees to create a professional video that highlights restaurants, things to do, places to stay, beautiful hikes to take on scenic trails and picture-perfect vistas to see? That video could play on screens inside any area business that has one and be sent to tourism companies.
Also, what about creating a day in Auburn packages to sell to tourists and tourism companies? The packages could be combinations of hotel stays, deals at local restaurants and discounts on outdoor activities and local entertainment if purchased together.
With the enthusiasm already there to bring in tourists, it’s likely there are many ideas that have been brainstormed.
Now it’s a matter of making those ideas work and that requires collaboration.
The Chamber of Commerce, which aims to represent all businesses in Auburn, should extend an invitation to the various business association leaders and bring them together for a meeting about this topic. Bring everyone’s ideas together and agree on an action plan.
Hopefully then Auburn will reap the benefits of working to attract more tourists and, thus, more dollars to the city.