Travel Paso names new board chairman, renews city partnership
Alex Villicana, owner of Villicana Winery, elected chairman of board of directors
– To kick off the fiscal year 2022-2023, which began July 1, Travel Paso’s Board of Directors recently held elections and named Alex Villicana its chairman. He is the owner and founder of Villicana Winery and Re:Find Distillery.
Villicana’s appointment marks the first time Travel Paso has elected a chairman from outside of the lodging Industry. He is a longtime Travel Paso Board member who previously served as treasurer, and most recently secretary. Villicana replaces John Arnold, who expertly led the board through the pandemic. Arnold, the general manager of the Paso Robles Holiday Inn Express & Suites, will continue to serve on the board.
“I am honored to start my tenure as chairman at such a productive and exciting time for Travel Paso,” says Villicana. “Coming from the beverage side, my election is proof of just how dedicated Travel Paso is to working with our city’s diverse industries and thought leaders to ensure Paso Robles continues to thrive as a top-tier tourism destination.”
Three new officers were also elected. Margaret Johnson of Paso Robles Inn & Martin Resorts will serve as Vice Chair; Angela McKee, General Manager of Best Western Plus Black Oak, will serve as Treasurer; and Victor Popp, General Manager of La Quinta Inn and Suites, will serve as Secretary. Additionally, three new members were elected to the nine-member Board: Jill Alexander, Assistant Property Manager at Paso Market Walk; Chance Jorgensen, General Manager of Oxford Collection; and Kaitlin Walton, Regional VP, Operations and Sales for Sun Communities.
Travel Paso’s Marketing Committee grew its membership to 19 from 14, making it the largest committee in Travel Paso’s history. The marketing committee advises the Board on Travel Paso’s marketing goals and campaigns. By design, its members represent Paso Robles’ diverse tourism ecosystem, and include experts from the lodging, beverage, events and tour operator industries.
The nonprofit marketing organization has also announced its lodging members and Paso Robles City Council have renewed the Paso Robles Tourism Improvement District (PRTID) for 10 years.
The PRTID is a public-private partnership that uses a lodging assessment to help fund Travel Paso. The city collects the assessment from lodging members and distributes the funds to Travel Paso. Tourists who stay overnight at Paso’s hotels, RV parks, and vacation rentals ultimately fund the assessment. The Paso Robles City Council unanimously approved the renewal on June 7.
“Tourism is a key economic driver in our community and adds to the quality of life for all residents. This long-term renewal reaffirms the resounding support our community has for tourism and will allow us to continue to market our amazing destination,” says Stacie Jacob, Travel Paso’s executive director. “Our community’s unified vision and support of tourism were essential in Paso Robles’ rebound from the pandemic and will remain the key to future successes moving forward.”
As Jacob announced in May, Paso Robles continues to see a record-breaking number of visitors and unprecedented tourist-generated lodging tax revenues.
Tourist lodging revenues are gathered through the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), which is billed directly to guests at every hotel, RV resort, and vacation rental. The tax revenues are separate from the PRTID. They supplement the General Fund and are used to support a host of city services, including parks and recreation, the library, road improvements, and the police and fire departments.
From March 2021 through April 2022 (the most recent data), each month saw record revenues, according to Travel Paso. In July 2021 and April 2022, thanks in part to Travel Paso’s targeted marketing campaigns, the TOT topped $1 million. All told, the TOT has generated nearly $9 million in revenue from visiting tourists since March 2021, a record for the City of Paso Robles.