By Joe D’Alessandro
During the past 30 years that I have spent in leadership roles in the travel and tourism industry on the West Coast, I have seen Sonoma become a world-class destination, attracting domestic and international visitors from across the globe.
With this growth in visitor interest and prominence over the last three decades, Sonoma has realized significant economic benefits, including more jobs for local residents and additional tax dollars to help fund vital city services.
Sonoma has the opportunity to realize even more community benefits associated with tourism. As president and CEO of the organization that markets San Francisco and Northern California to the rest of the world, I have come to realize Sonoma is becoming one of those locations that travelers are putting on their bucket list as a place they must visit sometime in their lifetime. And who would blame them? Sonoma County has beauty, charm, outstanding wines, fabulous restaurants and some of the friendliest people anywhere. These are all the features and amenities that attracted us to purchase our home and become residents, and voters, in the City of Sonoma. My family has lived in Northern California for five generations and I care deeply about the future of our community.
My experience in the travel and tourism industry tells me the appeal of Sonoma will grow and visitors will continue to come to visit us. We can’t stop that, but we can make sure that we manage it properly. As a resident of Sonoma, I want to make sure our community has the opportunity to harness the great benefits of tourism – and we can do this if the growth in tourism is managed effectively and responsibly so we can protect our town’s character and charm.