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New visitor’s center helps Oceanside shine

OCEANSIDE — Serious about attracting tourists to its growing city, Oceanside has a new conference and visitor bureau to lead the charge. Visit Oceanside Conference and Visitors Bureau is the city’s new organization dedicated to attracting visitors. The recently launched bureau is a nonprofit organization and will be primarily funded by a 1.5 percent Tourism Marketing District tax that was implemented earlier this year.
Leading the bureau as chief executive is Leslee Gaul, who previously served in a similar capacity as director of tourism for the California Welcome Center Oceanside under the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. In her new capacity, Gaul will continue to oversee the CWCO, which is located at the Visit Oceanside offices.
“With dwindling funding from the city due to economic conditions, it was imperative that we find another source of revenue to support the marketing of Oceanside as a visitor destination,” Gaul said. “The newly formed TMD provides us with a secure source of funding so that we can not only continue, but also increase our sales and marketing efforts.”
Visit Oceanside’s first priorities are to implement a group sales program, upgrade its website and web presence and embark on a destination brand initiative, which typically is a yearlong process. The bureau also has contracted with a boutique San Diego public relations agency, JLK Communications, to pursue media coverage for the destination in key feeder markets.
“Historically, Oceanside has lagged behind some of our neighboring coastal cities in funding and resources to market the destination,” Gaul said. “With so many new visitor industry development projects and business initiatives on the horizon, the city is poised for tremendous growth and change as a travel destination. Our goal is to help lead that change and get the word out that Oceanside is an attractive Southern California coastal escape with phenomenal recreational and cultural attractions.”
Downtown Oceanside has recently experienced a mini-Renaissance with several new restaurants, the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art, a new location for the California Surf Museum and the opening of the oceanfront Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort.
Continuing in its expansion, the following are future developments for Oceanside:
— A much anticipated makeover of downtown’s Mission Avenue received an endorsement by city council this month. The pedestrian-friendly plan includes broader sidewalks, canopy trees and landscaping, and changing the ocean view avenue into a two lane, one-way street.
— A four-star beachfront hotel to incorporate the famous “Top Gun” house, which is currently located at the site.
— A dynamic ocean view mixed-use project that includes an expansive retail center and boutique hotel.