New tourism center welcomes visitors
Morro Bay, the town by the Rock, has much to offer both tourists and local residents and the new visitor’s center opened by the new Morro Bay Tourism Bureau is sure to be a hit. The tourism bureau that came about through the efforts of The Morro Bay Tourism Business Improvement District Advisory Board was developed to work effectively to promote the town.
“We are refocusing on tourism and offering a dynamic approach to it,” said Joan Solu, President of the tourism board. “This involves marketing, public relations, and brand management. The new welcome center will serve the entire tourism community as well as residents.” The center, which is at 255 Morro Bay Boulevard, is excellently situated just a block above the Embarcadero and a block below the downtown area. “This location bridges the gap between old town and the Embarcadero,” commented Jayne Behman, also a board member. And while that seems to only connect two areas of this small town, Solu emphasized that North Morro Bay is not forgotten in this approach.
The particularly good thing about the center is that a visitor can come in and obtain specific information. If they are looking for a restaurant that serves a particular dish or perhaps they want to see a certain local attraction, that information is available for them and there is a knowledgeable and helpful staff to assist them. A 24-hour interactive kiosk is located on the side of the building so that people can access information about businesses and events in the town at any time.
Morro Bay has experienced the highest percentage of tourism growth in the past three years and this trend is expected to continue. Upcoming events like Morro Bay Beautiful’s Annual City Wide Yard Sale on April 6th and 7th, offering over 100 locations for bargain seekers to explore, and the Morro Bay Photo Expo, a multi-day event that offers photo enthusiasts a wide range of hands-on classes, workshops and demonstrations, on April 18th through the 21st are the types of activities the tourism bureau supports to attract visitors.
Part of the desire to refocus the direction of tourism entailed the hiring of Karin Moss as Executive Director. Moss comes to the job with an abundance of experience and has just the infusion of new ideas on how to make the town better known throughout the country. “I like to do urban business in a rural setting,” Moss said.
Moss’s career spans over 30 years with a wide range of corporate and non-profit association leadership success. She served as marketing campaign consultant for downtown revitalization and Main Street programs in California and North Carolina as well as to the National Main Street Center in Washington. She was honored for her success in developing multi-ethnic marketing campaigns as Campaign Director of Census 2000 in the Central Valley. As Executive Director of the California Sesquicentennial Foundation she raised funds to underwrite many events that took place in California for the State’s 150th anniversary. In that capacity she worked closely with the State’s Department of Travel and Tourism providing community and media outreach.
Moss already has ideas to help Morro Bay be better known. “I don’t necessarily assume that people know where we are located,” she explained, “ I’ve already found that a lot of people misspell our name and many can’t even pinpoint where on the California coast to find us.” Moss feels that there is a lot of opportunity for Morro Bay to have a presence in the valley and will promote the town’s events at valley events. “We will promote Morro Bay’s existing events better and see that there are more events that cater to the particular population that could come here,” she said. “For instance I think we need to have more events for seniors.”
Moss feels that the billboard outside of town has not answered the “so what” question. “Why should I exit at Morro Bay? What is it offering me?” she asks. She feels strongly that the responsibility of her position is to assure the trickle down concept of tourism, where every dollar spent by visitors to the town gets turned over and increased in the local economy.
Solu and Behman echo those sentiments and are thrilled to have Karin Moss in this position. “She is engaging, brilliant, and experienced at all levels,” Behman said.
Morro Bay looks forward to welcoming visitors and continuing to satisfy the needs of its residents. On February 7th the Welcome Center had a successful grand opening with community members and dignitaries attending.
The Morro Bay Tourism Bureau is on the Internet at www.morrobay.org and they are also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and can be accessed by a mobile application. Log on and look us up! Come on in to the visitor’s center and discover Morro Bay!
— Ruth Ann Angus