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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday ó April 9, 2004


Chamber highlights travel trends

ĎThe winter season was significantly betterí

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 executive director

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 marketing.

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.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.