Hotels, motels and RV campsites in Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura have banded together to create a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) with a budget of $1.1 million to promote the three-cities. The group’s first marketing campaign targeting overnight tourists and business travelers launched April 1st.

The new group, the Ventura County Lodging Association, is spending $700,000 a year to market the three-city region. The group will split an additional $200,000 a year to market each of the cities separately, said Victor Dollar, chair of the new association and general manager of the Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort.

The association plans to generate revenue for the campaign from a 1.5 percent self assessment on all room revenues. The assessment should generate $1.2 million annually, Dollar said.

“A few of us general managers started meeting a few years ago and we realized there was a lack of marketing dollars to promote the three cities,” Dollar said. “We decided it was better to join forces and pull the money together to market the three cities as a destination.”

The cities have a hotel occupancy tax but Dollar said most of that revenue goes into the general fund and not much if left over to promote the cities. Some hotels have chosen to pass the assessment on to guests while others have chosen to absorb the cost, Dollar added.

Some 58 hotels, motels, inns and RV campsites have joined the association. The marketing campaign will run in Los Angeles, Orange County, Bakersfield and the San Fernando Valley. It will include internet marketing through sites like TripAdvisor.com, as well as outdoor billboards, print, radio and social media.

The association is keeping administrative expenses minimal with a budget of just $200,000 and one employee devoted to the effort.

The campaign is being created by theAgency, a full-service advertising firm in Camarillo.

"Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura are all about an hour's drive north from Los Angeles so they make easy, quick getaways for tourists, and convenient meeting places for businesses," said Dollar. The campaign will tout the region’s beaches, along with recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking and biking. It will also publicize the 200,000 square feet of conference and meeting room space and 4,000 guest rooms available in the region.

Judy Temes