San Benito Lifestyle

San Benito County Goes Viral

Tourism promotion lands photos, online stories, magazine spreads

Locals in San Benito County may soon see an uptick in tourism. With the Chamber of Commerce’s recent push to promote the area, the wineries, restaurants and beauty of San Benito County are being displayed in magazines, on websites and discussed on radio shows.

Chamber President Juli Vieira and others hosted various writers in March—including professionals from the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the well-known Cooking Ladies—showing them the sights and sounds, in hopes they’d help spread the word about San Benito County.

“I think they’ve done a wonderful job and they keep putting stuff up about our county,” Vieira said. “Every time they write something, every time they put something on their blogs or Facebook page, they somehow try to work in San Benito County. The Cooking Ladies, who we had the first part of March, just added something again to their Facebook page and their blog, so it’s continuous.”

For their part, the Cooking Ladies—Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay—are more than happy to continue and share their love of the area.

“San Benito County is a special place with one foot in history and tradition and the other in the 21st Century,” Mackay said. “It promotes local bounty and talent—all for the purpose of making the county the best it can be. Community support is very strong.”

During the March tours, writers visited area hotspots, including DeRose Winery, Paine’s Restaurant and Bar and Bar SZ Ranch. IFWTWA writers spent the evenings of their three-day tour at the Joshua Inn.

Donnette Carter, fair manager and CEO of the Bolado Park Event Center, said there is a huge benefit to partnering with organizations to promote tourism. She said results from such promotions are both immediate and long-term.

“The articles, Facebook mentions, videos and National Park Planner entries remain available online into the future for those seeking information on vacation hotspots,” Carter said. “The results will definitely be forthcoming, and measurable through anticipated TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) and sales tax revenue along with response from restaurants, attractions and others.”

The Chamber continues to push forward with tourism campaigns and has its eye set on two new websites: one for the Chamber and a separate one dedicated exclusively to tourism.

“Our Chamber website is supposed to be up in the next two weeks and the tourism website should be launched at the end of July,” Vieira said. “We’ll have itineraries for birders, hikers and different things you can see along with the wineries. We’ll have a lot about county history and about movies that have been filmed here. It’s going to be a very large website with a lot of information.”

Vieira said along with the websites, there will be new printed material and other promotional ideas implemented. She added that a booth will also be designed that can be taken to different tourism and travel shows.

According to Vieira, funding continues to come in for promoting tourism in San Benito County; the city approved another $50,000 for the 2015-16 budget, the City Council in San Juan Bautista allotted $2,500 and the Community Foundation recently gave a $10,000 grant.

In addition, The Big Blend—an online magazine with writers who visited in March—plans to send more writers in the near future.

“We’re having The Big Blend back,” Vieira said. “They want to see what things we have going on in the fall and they want to time it with the Olive Festival. We’ve also had over seven hours so far about San Benito County on their syndicated radio show. And if you go onto the Big Blend magazine online, this month is all about San Benito County.”

The Chamber is currently searching for a writer to come in and promote all of the outdoor activities available in the community, including cycling, hiking and birding. Vieira said they’ve received many applications from writers who want to take advantage of the promotional tours and that the Chamber is currently vetting each of them.

“San Benito County is very fortunate to have people like Juli Vieira and those who are passionate about their county and willing to work hard to entice visitors,” said The Cooking Ladies’ Phyllis Hinz. “Tourism is crucial to community development and San Benito County has a unique story to share.”

To read the stories and view photos related to the tourism promotion, click below:

San Benito County: A peaceful getaway with lots to do

The San Benito County experience is personal

A self-guided agritour of San Benito County

San Benito Wines are worth a second taste

Magazine pages



Andrea "Andi" Joseph is a freelance editor, writer and photographer with a journalism degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She was the Lifestyles Editor for the Hollister Free Lance, Gilroy Dispatch and Morgan Hill Times for nearly 11 years, and has also worked for the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian and the Arroyo Grande Times-Press-Recorder. Andi enjoys hiking, traveling and exploring with her dog, Bailey.