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Comic heads in Chula Vista beds Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Jul 07 2012 12:00 PM

Would it be unfair to use the upcoming Comic-Con in San Diego to gauge how successful  the Chula Vista Tourism and Marketing District is in attracting tourists to this city?

Is it unreasonable to hope  that hotel and motel owners here —not to mention restaurant owners and maybe a couple of bars along the way — can nibble on a few of the crumbs that are tourists who cannot afford to stay in downtownSan Diego or even Mission Valley?

We’re not talking about the annual “nerdfest” as a make or break event for the TMD. Determining the organization’s success or failure based on a convention in a neighboring city is unfair. But is it unrealistic to hope that some out-of-towners visiting the city of San Diego expressly for the county’s most hyped and anticipated convention of the year will rest their heads in Chula Vista beds?

When the proposed tourism board first showed its head a few years back it was greeted with skepticism. What tourist attractions did Chula Vista have to offer? The people who live here are warm and friendly — and sure Chula Vista has produced Jessica Sanchez — but are Mr. and Mrs. Taylor from Phoenix going to pay money to drive around Eastlake and catch a glimpse of the “American Idol” runner-up’s modest home? Probably not.

And while cavorting  at Knott’s Water Park might be a fun way to spend a day, and the place formerly known as the Chula Vista Nature Center might fill summertime hours with fun and education, Chula Vista probably doesn’t rank up there with San Diego as a tourist destination.

Supporters of the TMD argued that local hotels and motels could benefit from events outside of city limits by getting the word out that Chula Vista had plenty of affordable lodging available a mere 15 minutes away by trolley.

But a recent and troubling grand jury report stated that of the $681,689 the TMD had on its books, only 10 percent was used for marketing. The bulk of expenses was earmarked for staff expenses.

Maybe the almost $70,000 used for marketing Chula Vista  (some of which was spent in The Star-News) to potential tourists over two years was brilliantly spent and was sufficient enough to get the job done. Maybe the TMD’s marketing expenditures aren’t a question of how much so much as how effective.

Which brings us back to the original question: is it unfair to use the upcoming comic book and superhero convention to gauge how effectively the TMD used $70,000 to bring tourists to Chula Vista?

Maybe that’s a question only a superhero can answer. If so, I know where you can find one.

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