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Santa Maria hopeful new flights will help tourism take-off

SM Tourism
Traveler checks in at Radisson Hotel front desk at the Santa Maria Airport Tuesday afternoon. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The recent announcement of new flights coming to the Santa Maria Airport has many in the city hopeful it will bring an increase in tourism.

"It's a little bit early to tell, but I do think it's going to have an impact for us and for the town," said Jean-Luc Garon, Radisson Hotel General Manager. "It's going to bring some people to Santa Maria. I think it's going to be a good thing."

Starting in June, United Airlines will begin daily flights from Santa Maria to Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"I think LA and San Francisco is going to be more business people, day-to-day traveling, but Denver is definitely going to bring people from a different area," said Garon. "I think it will be a lot more to us."

Jennifer Harrison, who is the Santa Maria Valley Visitors Bureau Director, agrees.

She believes the new air service creates a bigger opportunity to attract potential new visitors from the Rocky Mountain State.

"It allows us to expand into the Denver region, " said Harrison. "What it allows us to do, is it creates a new market opportunity for us."

Harrison added those efforts are already underway.

"Our Tourism Marketing District agency is currently working on putting some strategies together," said Harrison. "We're looking at to doing some traveling trade shows in that region. We do have a pretty solid marketing plan within the chamber and marketing district and we'll expand to include Denver."

When new visitors eventually come to Santa Maria, local businesses stand to cash in.

"(Visitors) are going to need hotels and rental cars," said Garon. "They are going to need restaurants. They're going to go to retail stores. They are going to use our facilities. I'm looking forward to it a lot."

Not only does the city and region have those ample amenities, it also has several marketable qualities that are attractive to tourists.

"Santa Maria is a great wine region," said Harrison. "We have great BBQ. We have affordability. Great accommodations. We can start expanding our marketing to be a hub to the Central Coast, not just that Santa Maria Valley."

United flights from all three cities to Santa Maria begin on June 4.

California / Community / Economy / Lifestyle / Money and Business / Santa Maria - North County / What's Right

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.