Calaveras tourism to get a financial boost

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By MIKE MORRIS

August might be the heart of Calaveras County's tourist season, but the industry has seen sunnier days.

"Right now it seems like tourism is sort of not up to be where we would hope it would be at this point," said Lisa Reynolds, executive director of the Calaveras Visitor's Bureau.

"I believe that a lot of that has to do with the economy what's going on in the Bay area right now, since that's where a lot of our tourists come from."

Reynolds, who works at the Bureau's main office in Angels Camp, said she calls hotels throughout the county every Tuesday and checks on vacancy rates.

"We find that people aren't as full," she said. "And some of the feedback we get from those calls is telling us that it's a little slower than previous years."

Tad Folendorf, owner of the Gold Country Inn and Jumping Frog Motel and a former mayor of Angels Camp, agreed.

"The tourism business has been off this year," said Folendorf, president of the Calaveras Visitors' Bureau.

But there's good news for the county's tourism industry.

A transient occupancy tax, which increased the tax on Angels Camp hotel rooms from 6 percent to 10 percent, went into effect last month. The bureau will get a third of the 4 percent increase to help promote tourism in the area.

"The additional funding we have coming in from the city will benefit the entire county," Reynolds said.

She estimates the bureau, with a budget of about $200,000, will receive an additional $80,000 a year from the city.

The tax money will help pay for the distribution of the county's 48-page color guide books throughout the state. Books are already in San Francisco and Merced centers.

"We're trying to focus on the drive market," Reynolds said, referring to vacationers driving through the county.

One of those drivers is Todd Wishart, who was visiting Angels Camp Monday afternoon with his wife, mother and four young children. They drove a minivan from Orange County to go on a 10-day tour of old gold mining towns.

Wishart added Angels Camp into his trip itinerary when he learned of the city on the Internet.

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