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City comes together to welcome visitors and their economic impact
tourism pic1
Local businesses and organizations are hoping to welcome more events and sports tournaments to Turlock in an effort to bring in tourism dollars. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

While communities across the state continue to struggle with the economic recession, there have been small gains in a few industries, among them tourism. In Turlock, businesses and organizations are coming together to compete for those tourism dollars.

“We’re working really hard at pushing the Turlock stay,” said Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau director Desa Cammack.

The Turlock CVB works hand in hand with promoters, local facilities, the City of Turlock and hoteliers and restaurant owners to make sure visitors have access to everything they need to pull off a successful event. Enticing event promoters and tournament organizers to choose Turlock can be a very lucrative affair for everyone.

Total direct travel spending in California was $95.1 billion in 2010, a 7.5 percent increase from 2009 spending, according to a report by Dean Runyan Associates done for the California Travel & Tourism Commission. Travel spending in California directly supported 873,000 jobs, with earnings of $29.9 billion. Travel spending generated the greatest number of jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation (209,000 jobs), and accommodations and food service (516,000 jobs).

Travel spending in 2010 generated $2.1 billion in taxes for city governments across the state.

At least one Turlock hotel is benefitting from the push for local tourism.

According to Fairfield Inn sales coordinator Rounita Yoskin, the Turlock hotel has seen an increase in guests.

“We’ve exceeded last year’s numbers,” said Yoskin.

The hotel — which opened in 2009 with 81 rooms and employs about 25 people — has a clientele that includes business travelers, sports groups and wedding parties, as well as visitors to California State University, Stanislaus.

“We’re mid way to Yosemite and in the middle of Tahoe and Los Angeles,” Yoskin said.

While Turlock’s central location in the state — and easy accessibility from Highway 99 — lures vacation travelers, sports tournaments are an annual draw.

 “Turlock CVB has a sports concierge mentality,” Cammack said. “We’re there to be
(tournament organizers’) hands, eyes and ears when they come to Turlock.”

Last spring, California State University, Stanislaus hosted the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships, bringing to town 1,200 athletes from across the county. And for the past two years, the university has hosted the California Collegiate Athletic Association Men's and Women's Soccer Championships, drawing approximately 200 athletes — an event that will once again come to Turlock.

“Cal State Stanislaus has demonstrated over the last two years that it has an outstanding facility that the student-athletes enjoy competing at,” conference commissioner Robert J. Hiegert said in July. “Turlock is centrally located within the state providing a relatively convenient trip for all the participating programs.”

The university is not the only source of sports tourists. The City of Turlock has two facilities capable of hosting large tournaments — Pedretti Park, which has four softball fields and a hardball field, and the Turlock Regional Sports Complex, which has 10 soccer fields and two softball diamonds.

“This year we had a few more tournaments than last year,” said Turlock Recreation Supervisor Mark Crivelli. “At Pedretti, we’re booked every weekend from February through mid-November.  At the sports complex, we had eight soccer tournaments, up about three from previous years. The soccer tournaments are good-sized tournaments with anywhere from 48 to 70 teams.

“Our focus was to bring in tournaments, in return the whole city is busier,” he said.

According to Cammack, each visiting sports player brings in about $70 for Turlock businesses for a single-day visit. That estimate includes money for gas, food, snacks and incidentals spent by each player and his or her family members during their trip to Turlock. An overnight stay averages about $150 per player.

If each team averages 12 players, there could be anywhere from 240 to 720 athletes visiting Turlock. That is anywhere between $16,800 and $50,400 spent in Turlock if each team only stays one day. If 40 teams stay for three nights, the total money spent would be around $216,000.

Sports tournaments, however, are not the only draw to town.  Turlock is also home to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds — and the dozens of special events that are held there every year.

“We’re realizing not only the importance of tourism for the town, but also the fairgrounds. We can’t just rely on the 10-day fair,” said Stanislaus County Fair Chief Executive Director Chris Borovansky. “We’re actively seeking business and trying to retain the business that’s already here.”

New events for the fairgrounds in 2011 include the American Cowboy Team Roping Association’s five-day roping finals event, Save Mart corporate meetings and a host of new dog shows and concerts.

Borovansky said event promoters are finding that Turlock is a business-friendly environment.

“The community recognizes the economic role that visitors and tourists play,” he said. “Turlock definitely gets it.”

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.