YVB exec named to statewide tourism panel

Susan Sternitzke to join Governor's Tourism Advisory Council

YUMA, ARIZONA – With a new voice on a statewide tourism advisory panel, the chances that Yuma will get left off the map of Arizona destinations just plunged.

Susan Sternitzke, interim executive director of Yuma Visitors Bureau, has been invited to join the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Council (TAC), giving the community an active role in helping to shape statewide tourism programs and policies.

The advisory council gives policy guidance and direction to the Arizona Office of Tourism, which is tasked with promoting tourism throughout Arizona by increasing awareness of both rural and urban travel opportunities, along with its iconic landscapes.

“Having the opportunity to be at the table with other tourism leaders will help us to encourage tourism programs that can benefit Yuma and other areas of Arizona outside the Tucson-Phoenix-Grand Canyon corridor,” Sternitzke said.

The Tourism Advisory Council is comprised of 15 members appointed by the governor for five-year terms, and includes representatives from recreational and tourist attractions, lodging, restaurant or food and transportation industries, as well as other businesses and the general public.  By law, the council must include a representative from each of Arizona’s six geographical planning areas of the state, including “Arizona’s West Coast” stretching along the Colorado River from Mexico to Nevada and Utah. The council assists and advises AOT’s director on the agency’s budget and on policies and programs to promote and develop tourism for the state.

“Representing Yuma and the West Coast region, Susan is a great addition to the Tourism Advisory Council,” said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.  “Susan brings amazing tourism experience, vitality, passion and energy to the mission of the Council, the Arizona Office of Tourism and the state. We are excited to have her participation and greatly appreciate her commitment.”

Sternitzke’s new role on the statewide advisory council is not YVB’s only new initiative to showcase Yuma on a state, national – and even international – basis.
Yuma was among Arizona destinations spotlighted at a “media marketplace” event in New York City last month, where media relations specialist Ann Walker pitched YVB’s new agritourism programs to travel writers and editors as a story ripe for the picking.
“This was the first time Yuma was part of the New York showcase and our Medjool gift boxes from Imperial Date Gardens were a huge hit,” Walker said.  “My promise that Yuma could promise ‘four great dates in a row’ was a great icebreaker, but there was also genuine interest in everything we grow here, from dates to lettuce to wheat.”
Walker will attend a similar event later this month in Phoenix targeting both Arizona-based journalists and attendees at the national “Travel Classics West” conference for travel writers and editors.  In November, she’ll head to Toronto with Yuma story ideas for the national Canadian media.
Kristan Sheppeard has been hard at work shaping YVB’s new agritourism division that’s garnering attention from around the state and nation – including the cover story in the November/December issue of SkyWest magazine, the inflight magazine for United Express commuter air services reaching 2.5 million passengers every month.

Meanwhile, YVB’s “The Bus Stops Here” sales blitz driven by Tourism Sales Manager Shannan Louser was a huge success, with nearly 100 volunteers making more than 2,000 phone calls in a single day – and “stopping” at least 365 tour operators to take a look at the diverse itineraries Yuma offers to bus groups.

“Selling to the tour market is a long-term project,” Sternitzke said, “but the first step is to get their attention, and our ‘Bus Stops Here’ blitz surely did that.  If we can turn even just a percentage of the inquiries into actual visits, that’s thousands of dollars pumped into the local economy through our hotels, restaurants and attractions.”

“As a community, we are working smarter, using innovative approaches and creating an environment that encourages everyone to come together to promote Yuma,” Sternitzke added.  “If we can encourage our partners around the state to do the same, all of Arizona will reap the benefits.”

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Ann Walker, 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell), ann@visityuma.com

202 S. 1st Avenue, Suite 202, Yuma, Arizona 85364 / www.visityuma.com

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Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. The nonprofit is funded in part by City of Yuma hospitality tax revenues.

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