The Travel Forecast

May 22, 2019

Congratulations Dan Haifley!

Dan Haifley, former Executive Director of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a nonprofit ocean education and conservation organization founded by the late Jack O’Neill has retired.  Dan was the first Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, which provided free, ocean-going science and environment programs for mostly low income elementary school students, from 1999 to 2019.  Over 100,000 students were served during his tenure, where he also oversaw a fundraising campaign for and the renovation of the O’Neill building at the Santa Cruz Harbor, including OSO’s education center and the Surfrider Foundation’s water quality lab.

Dan’s accomplishments include:

Public Policy

Dan served as Community Affairs Officer for PG&E in the Monterey Bay from 1997 to 1999 where he lead a wetland restoration in Moss Landing. 

He also served as District Chief of Staff for the late California Senator Henry J. Mello from 1993 until 1996; Executive Director of Save Our Shores – where he worked on local laws in California aimed at onshore facilities for offshore oil and designation of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) – from 1986 to 1993.  The Monterey Bay coastline became newly vulnerable in 1986 when a moratorium, an annual freeze on federal funds needed to plan for offshore leasing, came to an end. After the Santa Barbara oil spill, Panetta and the Coastal Commission began planning for sanctuary status for the Monterey Bay. When the bay became vulnerable again in the late 1980’s, the opportunity came up for permanent protection. Save Our Shores, the Center for Marine Conservation, and others, formed the Environmental Working Group who would propose the largest boundary and strongest protections. Dan co-chaired this working group. 

Concurrently, Dan also worked with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) to create a slide show presentation that detailed the benefits of the largest boundary of the MBNMS. Dan led campaign efforts on selecting Boundary Option Five (the largest boundary) locally and on a statewide level including letter writing, phone calls, hosting large public forums, and gathering petition signatures. He led education efforts in local schools that weighed the value of creating a local, federally protected sanctuary, and during this process helped to inform both the education programs at Save Our Shores, and the soon to be established O’Neill Sea Odyssey. The largest boundary option was chosen for MBNMS and came into place on September 18th, 1992. 

Community Involvement

Dan serves on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of Catamaran Literary Reader, Save Our Shores, and the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. He previously served as Chair of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment, Co-Chair of the Dominican Hospital Community Advisors, on the Visit Santa Cruz County Board of Directors, and from 2015 to 2017 was Chair of the Advisory Committee for the successful effort to gain national monument status for the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property north of Santa Cruz;

Dan has also published two books: 50 Years of Safe Harbor in 2014, and 40 Years of Saving Our Shores in 2019;

From April 2008 until March 2019 he and UCSC Professor Gary Griggs published a weekly ocean column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Other Accolades

Dan received the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award and was named Man of the Year by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce in 2018, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party and from the Santa Cruz Nexties in 2019, and received the 2011 Ocean Hero Award from Save Our Shores.  Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Picture This:  VSCC Staff Meet with Properties Throughout Santa Cruz County!

Visitor spending reached $1 billion in Santa Cruz County in 2018, according to the Dean Runyan Associates report released earlier this month by Visit California, playing a critical part in the success of the local economy. To celebrate the economic impact of tourism locally, and to continue its annual community relations efforts, VSCC staff personally visited over 100 lodging properties throughout the county on Tuesday, May 14th.

Statewide, visitors spent a record $140 billion – an increase of 5 percent over the year before – and the tourism industry accounted more than 1 million jobs for Californians.  State and local tax revenue generated by tourism reached $11.8 billion providing communities like ours with the resources to thrive.

As international competition continues to grow, Visit California’s statewide marketing efforts allow Santa Cruz County to expand its reach and keep pace with other destinations.  Statewide, the industry invested in over 100 international markets to attract visitors from around the world, who typically spend more and stay longer than their domestic counterparts.  Once visitors decide to travel to California, local tourism marketing efforts motivate them to visit the region’s unique attractions and destinations.

This year, VSCC expanded its international marketing efforts to include travel trade and public relations efforts in Germany, Santa Cruz’s second largest inbound overseas market.  Since international efforts began overall, staff have facilitated individual agreements between Santa Cruz County hotels and inbound receptive tour operators, allowing travel agents around the world the ability to book reputed local hotels for foreign travelers.  With the assistance of a UK-based PR agency in-market, coverage of Santa Cruz County as a travel destination has increased exponentially in the UK, driving consumer demand. These expanded efforts support increased international airlift into nearby gateway cities and provide opportunities in a previously untapped market.

VSCC Hosts Visit California Australia and Quantas Airlines’ Q-Influencers

In April, Visit Santa Cruz County was approached by Visit California’s Australia office to participate in a multi-level promotion with Qantas Airlines and two influencers who are part of the “Q Collective” – Qantas Airlines’ roster of influencer ambassadors.  This valuable opportunity provided VSCC partners with elevated exposure for Santa Cruz County’s third largest inbound overseas market.R

With the spotlight on Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento, influencers Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn –  two millennial Aussie chefs, foodies, media personalities and authors with a passion for fitness and outdoor adventure – visited the area April 8 – 10 with Visit California Australia staff. Dan and Hayden are both former MasterChef Australia contestants and household names in Australia, with a combined Instagram following alone of over 100,000.

As well as Dan and Hayden’s Instagram audiences (63.5k and 52.6k followers respectively), the content will be distributed across:

  • Qantas Facebook page – reach of 1.4 million likes/followers
  • Qantas Travel Insider native content – 775,000 average page visits per month
  • We are also in the process of confirming that the content will feature on Qantas’ in-flight entertainment (TBC)
  • This will all be supported by $20k digital media spend targeting Qantas Frequent Flyers. The call to action will be to book flights to California now
  • Visit California channel distribution: Australia/NZ Facebook page (88,000 reach) + EDM content and website       

As a result of their visit to California, five videos were produced, which will be distributed starting May 27th across Qantas, Visit California, and influencer channels. Positioning Santa Cruz as a premiere “beyond the gateway” destination, two Santa Cruz-specific videos featured Santa Cruz-ing Surf Culture and Epic Outdoor Adventures.  Hayden and Dan toured Santa Cruz, and VSCC staff organized a surfing lesson with Richard Schmidt Surf School, mountain biking with The Ride Guides, a visit to the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a hike at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a bite to eat at Snap Taco, zip-lining with Mount Hermon Redwood Adventures, a sweet stop at The Penny Ice Creamery, and a sampling of ale at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing.  The team stayed at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn while in town.

Partner Kudos!

Congratulations to Trudie Ransom, owner of SUP Shack, who was given the Community Spirit Award, Gayle Ortiz of Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria for her work in the Capitola Library capital campaign fundraising efforts, and Ann Morhauser of Annieglass Inc for her work with Girls Inc during the Capitola-Soquel Chamber’s Community Awards and Art & Wine Auction Gala in April.  The Santa Cruz Harborand Charlie Hong Kong have stylish new websites! 

Arrivals and Departures

Welcome Chef Dante Cecchini to La Posta restaurant! And Brandon Napoli has been appointed new Director of the Small Business Development Center of Santa Cruz County. Welcome Nicole Berridge, new Director of Museum Operations at San Lorenzo Valley Museum in Boulder Creek!

Save the Date:  Corks, Forks, and Kegs

Join the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce at the First Annual Corks, Forks, and Kegs Festival on Saturday, June 1st at Kaiser Permanente Arena!  This event will celebrate the wine, craft beer, delicious food and live music of our area.  Click here for more information.

Take the Downtown Watsonville Street Plans Survey!

Attention residents, the business community and those who travel in the Downtown Watsonville area!  Do you think Main Street in Watsonville should be narrowed from four lanes to two? The City of Watsonville wants to hear from you. Click here to read more information on the topic. The survey can be taken in English or Spanish


that VSCC can help you suggest to guests what to see and do while in town, with our Weekly Top 5 list of events?  Do you want to be able to recommend things to do in town to guests visiting your property? VSCC can assist!  Check your email every Tuesday for our Top 5 Weekly Event list, a curated roundup of events throughout the county.  A link is provided within the email to a PDF version of the list – just print it out and display it at your front desk!  Not sure if you’ve been receiving the Top 5?  Click here and let us know