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San Clemente : City Acts to Get Tourism Into Downtown Area

More than 1.6 million visitors flocked to this city’s beaches last year, but the tourists rarely spill over into the streets of this sleepy Spanish-style community.

In an effort to lure conventions and other tourism, the city has now formed a Visitor and Convention Bureau with a budget of $20,000 for fiscal 1984.

This year, director Stephanie Dillon is shooting for even more funds “to finally divulge California’s best-kept secret: San Clemente.”

The bureau is targeting a direct-mail campaign to businesses in north Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego. And a new videotape promotes the city’s position on the Orange-San Diego county border as the ideal rendezvous where business executives can “meet halfway” between cities.

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San Clemente’s location has contributed to its isolation. But growth is overtaking the town, which should double its size in the next 15 years, say city officials. San Clemente’s grand flourish will be the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, a $25-million privately funded storehouse for the Nixon Watergate tapes and Nixon memorabilia. Ground breaking is set for sometime in mid-1986.

Expectations for the library’s tonic effect on tourism are running high. “Studies show an increase (in tourism) of well over half a million people a year,” said Tony Di Giovanni, a former San Clemente mayor instrumental in snagging the library for the city.

Dillon quotes the same figure but is modest about prospects for the city as a whole. “The city is awakening, but it’s the same in Santa Barbara or Oxnard. We’re just falling in line.”


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