By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Russ Veenema briefed the seven-member council about chamber activities, highlighting sections of a written report that he provides to the council twice a year.
The council did not discuss the tourism and marketing data, which were delivered during a four-hour meeting at City Hall on Tuesday.
In February, council members released $196,150 in city lodging tax funds to the chamber to be spent on marketing promotions.
Overall, the city allocated about $340,000 to the chamber for this year, said Nathan West, community and economic development director.
Room occupancy in Port Angeles is running “slightly ahead” of last year’s record guest tally, Veenema said.
“Most of the increase has occurred over the last couple of months,” he said.
“That bodes well for the collection of room tax in the next few months because we’re coming into the prime tourism season. This is when the majority of the room tax is collected, over the next few months.”
“Some of the properties that report to me commented that May was their best May ever,” Veenema added.
“So again, this is a good start for the summer.”
Room tax collection to date is “about 4 percent off of the 2013 numbers,” Veenema said.
The city expects to collect about $470,000 in room taxes this year.
Meanwhile, the chamber website experienced a “huge spike” in hits July 3-4 as people looked for information about the Fourth of July parade and fireworks display, Veenema said.
“But I was delighted to see that the No. 3 and No. 4 busiest days on the website were when the KOMO-TV ads started running on those weeks,” he said.
“They correlated perfectly with the Monday and Tuesdays that those ads ran. That was great to see.”
A $20,000 KOMO-TV ad campaign was launched last month to promote Port Angeles to the greater Seattle area.
“Based on the volume that we’re doing, we’re reaching 62.2 percent of the KOMO-TV market, roughly 2 million people, with a frequency of three times,” Veenema said.
“And as I pointed out earlier, when those KOMO-TV ads started running, we saw a jump in the website visits. So the correlation was obvious right there.”
Veenema said the chamber saw a 9.1 percent spike in Facebook likes between Jan. 1 and June 9.
The chamber’s Facebook page had 1,709 likes as of Wednesday.
“It’s a nice, steady growth,” Veenema said.
More than 500 people have signed the guestbook at the Port Angeles Visitor Center at 115 E. Railroad Ave.
“That’s roughly 30,000 that have come through the visitor center,” Veenema said.
The chamber also is collecting visitor data through grant-supported events such as the Port Angeles Kayak and Film Festival and the North Olympic Discovery Marathon.
The chamber set aside $70,000 in grants for local events this year.
Veenema closed by saying tourism remains a “big player in the whole economic engine for the area.”
“No single economic engine is going to do it alone, so we all have to have these different legs, so to speak, to stand on,” Veenema said.
“And tourism is standing pretty strong right now.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.