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3:30 PM Sun, Nov. 18th

Prescott Valley chamber assuming larger tourism role

Brett Soldwedel/The Daily Courier<br>Maria Arieno of Buffalo, N.Y., stops in the Prescott Valley Visitor Center on Thursday.

Brett Soldwedel/The Daily Courier<br>Maria Arieno of Buffalo, N.Y., stops in the Prescott Valley Visitor Center on Thursday.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - The Prescott Valley Chamber is using old and new tools to gain exposure for the community - and encourage visitors to attend events, patronize restaurants and stay overnight.

Old tools include continuing to operate a visitor center on the first floor of the building that houses the chamber office on Main Street, and distributing postcards of Prescott Valley scenes.

The center opened in 2003 and drew 4,070 visitors in the fiscal year ending June 30, said Marnie Uhl, chamber president and chief executive officer.

Adapting to new technology, the chamber is using social media to promote the community, she said.

Referring to the chamber's Facebook page, Uhl said, "We are just going to amp that up." She added YouTube videos might be in the works.

The chamber plans on using its various tools to reach potential visitors outside the traditional base in the greater Phoenix area, such as in Yuma and Lake Havasu City, Uhl said.

"People like to get out of town and try something different," she said.

Uhl spoke five weeks after the Town Council voted unanimously July 8 for a contract for the chamber for $113,275 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which started July 1.

While slightly smaller than the contract for 2009-2010, it contains $10,000 for tourism promotion. The town previously committed $5,000 a year to the Prescott Area Coalition for Tourism, which disbanded June 30 because the City of Prescott opted to hire a tourism director.

"We're on our own," Uhl said. "The regional (tourism) effort is gone."

The contract continues existing commitments, such as requiring the chamber to develop, publish, update and distribute tourism materials; sponsor Prescott Valley Days and other events; pay for and install "nonsectarian" displays for the holidays; and seek grants from the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The agreement established something new as well: requiring the chamber to form a tourism committee to promote Prescott Valley as a destination for tourists. It requires council representation on the committee, which must make quarterly reports to the council on how the town's money is being spent.

The committee met for the first time Monday at the chamber office, Uhl said. Its members include Councilwoman Patty Lasker, Parks and Recreation Director Brian Witty, Economic Development Manager Greg Fister and Steve Bracety, general manager of the Prescott Resort and Conference Center.

Bracety is a holdover from a tourism committee that is inactive, Uhl said. The new committee plans to meet Sept. 13, and Uhl said she will invite members of the former panel.

The former committee conducted a tourism expo in 2009 and May of this year, Uhl said. It contained representatives from the hospitality, destinations and attractions industries.

A representative of the hospitality industry, Days Inn General Manager Diana Wendlinger, said she "absolutely" will join the new panel.

"It is my industry," said Wendlinger, who served on the inactive committee. "Tourism is very important to the hospitality industry. I am excited about getting some new members on the committee."

Wendlinger, who has managed the 78-room hotel on Highway 69 since 1996, said promoting events benefits her industry.

Event participants shop, buy gas, eat at restaurants and stay in motels, she said.

"And by being able to coordinate the marketing of these events, it will benefit all of us," Wendlinger said. She said Days Inn posts a calendar of events on its website.

The chamber can promote the trail system in addition to events, said Uhl, who has been on the job four and a half years.

"It's exciting because we have so much to offer," she said.