2013-02-01 / Business

Chamber’s new marketing director will focus on tourism

McDemas comes to Camarillo by way of Tehachapi
By Stephanie Guzman

Anthony McDemas 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Anthony McDemas MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers The Camarillo Chamber of Commerce hired a full-time tourism and marketing director to manage a new website, create brochures and revamp the visitors center.

Chamber CEO Jennifer Wells said the Chamber hired Anthony McDemas to help bring tourists and their money to Camarillo as a way to boost the local economy.

“The Chamber has made efforts in the past, but this is the first time we’ve developed a whole program,” Wells said.

She said McDemas will work with other local tourism groups such as the Ventura County Lodging Association, a consortium of local hotels and motels that banded together in 2011 to promote the region and draw visitors here. The association uses self-generated fees to pay for its marketing campaign, known as Ventura County West.

Wells said McDemas will be paid $40,000 annually and he will eventually receive commissions based on sales from future tourism-related programs.

Wells said the Chamber chose McDemas for the job because he had tourism experience in another small, agricultural California town—Tehachapi, a city of 15,000 between Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave Desert, and Bakersfield.

“When I got to Tehachapi, it was a diamond in the rough,” McDemas said. “It has a few tourism assets, but it didn’t have a coordinated tourism effort.”

The 52-year-old Newport Beach native started the company Taste of Tehachapi in 2004, a food and dining guide that showcases independent restaurants and farms in the town.

He created a monthly leisure magazine called Tehachapi Lifestyle and several food tasting events, including a food and wine festival coupled with an art walk and outdoor music concert.

“The food and wine festival started out as a three-hour event with 300 people,” McDemas said. “Now it’s a three-day event with 2,500 people and all the hotel rooms are booked on Saturday night.”

McDemas said his target audience in Tehachapi was “foodies,” a group of people with discretionary income who like to spend money on fine food.

He said it’s important to him to cultivate a similar appreciation in Camarillo, which would take advantage of the region’s independent farms, mom-and-pop restaurants and local winemakers.

McDemas said he would also tap into the wedding, golf and corporate meetings market.

“Our goal is not just to get people to stay here and spend money here,” McDemas said. “Our goal is for them to have a wonderful, quality experience here so they recommend (Camarillo) to friends and come back.”

The tourism director said he will meet with hotel managers, restaurant and venue owners to get their opinions on local tourism efforts. He will also seek advice from the city, special districts and economic development associations.

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