The financially troubled Costa Mesa Visitors Bureau was finally laid to rest last week, when the City Council voted to formally close the bureau and pay off $4,305 it owed.
The bureau had been backed by the city, to the tune of $90,000, since September, 1983, as part of a three-year plan under which Costa Mesa was to provide the bureau with $60,000 a year.
Last December, however, the city stopped making the payments, after the bureau’s board of directors informed the city that the bureau, whose purpose was to draw tourists to Costa Mesa, was not accomplishing its goals, said City Manager Fred Sorsabal. Since that time, it had been dormant.
In addition to paying off the debt, the city will keep a display booth, some file cabinets and a video camera valued at about $4,000, Sorsabal said. Several thousand promotional brochures will be turned over to the Chamber of Commerce, which is expected to form a committee to promote travel to Costa Mesa, said Councilman Donn Hall, a member of the board of directors.
Hall blamed the bureau’s demise mostly on its budget, which he said was too small to permit effective promotion of Costa Mesa as a tourist spot. Such small municipalities have a tough time competing for visitor traffic with cities like Los Angeles and Anaheim, which have large convention and visitors bureaus, he said.
A better way would be for several cities in Southern Orange County to band together to form a single bureau to represent them, allowing for a better return on their dollars, Hall said.