Chamber highlights travel
ĎThe winter season was
Ö travel patterns have changed
to last minute, bargain hunter travelers. "You donít know in February
how the season will shape up."
ó CAROL WALLER, Chamber
By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer
The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and
Visitors Bureau highlighted the 2004 annual report Thursday morning to
its members with news of positive travel trends and new strategic
According to Carol Waller, the
Chamberís executive director, the "winter season was significantly
better than last year." Chamber statistics support a positive turnaround
in the 2003-2004 tourist market with an increase in the number of skier
days from 2003, a 13 percent increase in lodging occupancy and an
increase in the Local Option Tax revenues, 5 percent for Sun Valley and
4 percent for Ketchum. The Chamber itself experienced an increase in the
number of walk-in visitor groups over the 2002-2003 season, which
translates into more activity for local businesses and real estate.
Sun Valley/Ketchum Executive
Director Carol Waller speaks to the positive economic impact of
tourist travel in Blaine County. Express photo by David N. Seelig
The addition of direct Horizon air
flights from Los Angeles to Sun Valley this year has helped to bring
visitors to the area. Waller explained that according to a 2004 March
survey of non-resident airline passengers traveling from Sun Valley to
Los Angeles and Oakland, 19 percent of passengers had never been to Sun
Valley and 48 percent said the direct flight made a difference on how
often they traveled to Sun Valley.
The convenience increased traffic
with the average number of plane landings surpassing previous years.
Given the success of the direct flight to Los Angeles and Oakland, the
Chamber aims to establish cooperative funding with the business
community to continue daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles and Oakland
for the 2004-2005 winter.
Waller explained the tourist
market to Blaine County is recovering from the negative impacts from
9/11, and as a result travel patterns have changed to last minute,
bargain hunter travelers. Waller commented, "You donít know in February
how the season will shape up."
Carrie Westergard details
changes in the Chamberís brand image of the Sun Valley area. Express
photo by David N. Seelig
This year season shaped up well,
as the Chamber modified their marketing campaign strategy and message.
Carrie Westergard, the Marketing director for the Chamber explained the
chamberís new campaign "changed the brand image with photography, type
and adjectives." The strategy shifted from a primarily print campaign to
a direct mail strategy with vacation planners utilizing vintage images
to promote the all-American Sun Valley image.
This year the Chamber also
introduces the First Annual Hemingway Heritage Celebration, September 23
to 26, headed by Marketing Coordinator Heather Gillespie. Gillespie
explained the celebration honors Ernest Hemingway with variety of
speakers, films and activities.
The Chamber continued their
efforts to promote local retailers by increasing visual presence of
retailers. The Chamber supported the Ketchumís Retailerís Association
with the informational kiosks, now appearing throughout Ketchum. In
addition a new city street banner program is in the works with banners
to hang off poles on Main Street and Sun Valley Road beginning in May.
Also, the Chamber hopes to add a jitney service to provide
transportation throughout the Ketchum core.