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Visit Oceanside is working with the city to develop the city's first-ever Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Visit Oceanside is working with the city to develop the city's first-ever Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Oceanside to develop sustainable tourism plan to boost economy

OCEANSIDE — The city’s tourism bureau is partnering with city staff to create a sustainable tourism plan that benefits the local economy and environment while improving the overall experience for residents and visitors for the next decade.

Visit Oceanside, the city’s official tourism marketing organization that influences roughly one-third of the $415 million in annual visitor spending, is working with the city to develop Oceanside’s first-ever Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.

The plan will provide a 10-year blueprint for stewarding tourism growth toward a sustainable future while benefiting both tourists and locals alike.

For the development phase, the city will apply best practices and criteria established by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism. The council also provides international accreditation to destinations for sustainable tourism.

Oceanside will be evaluated against the tourism council’s standards, which champion tourism as a vehicle for social, cultural and economic good while removing and avoiding negative environmental and social impacts on global destinations.

“The pandemic shed light on the importance of a holistic approach to tourism that balances economic benefit with quality of life for residents and health of the destination,” said Leslee Gaul, CEO of Visit Oceanside.

Oceanside is beginning to develop a tourism plan that will steward tourism growth toward a sustainable future for the local economy and environment while benefiting locals as well as tourists. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Oceanside is pushing to grow sustainable tourism that benefits residents and visitors. Photo by Samantha Nelson

Oceanside’s tourism master plan will identify an overarching vision with four objectives: visitor quality experience, quality of economy, environmental quality and resident quality of life. The program will provide an action plan for promoting experiences, products, infrastructure and policies that align with those objectives.

“Over the last 10 years, Oceanside has realized so much of its potential as a visitor destination, and our goal is to nurture future progress in a way that continues to impact the community for good,” Gaul said. “This process reflects our love for this city and our desire for it to thrive for many years to come.”

The first phase of the plan’s development includes a sustainability assessment, destination assessment, competitive analysis and engaging with residents, businesses and city leaders to gain input on the plan’s details.

A series of online surveys, focus groups and town halls will be conducted through March, followed by more town halls, data analysis and a visioning workshop between April and June to develop the plan over the summer. Coordinators expect to finish and implement the program by the end of the year.

A steering committee of 25 members, including city staff, Vision Oceanside staff and board, and Global Sustainable Tourism Council representatives, will guide the plan’s development.

Gaul is one of the members, along with Visit Oceanside Board Chair Scott Hausknecht, Oceanside Director of Development Services Darlene Nicandro, Economic Development Manager Michelle Geller, Coastal Zone Administrator Jayme Timberlake and Environmental Officer Colleen Foster, to name a few.

“We are excited about having a roadmap and achievable recommendations designed to protect our coastal environment and benefit locals as well as those who visit,” Gaul added.

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