Food strategy developed to mitigate shortage, Council told

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The city of Avalon, facing a “table shortage,” has developed a strategic plan to ensure tourists coming to the island this summer will get a good meal.

Due to a variety of circumstances, Avalon is headed into the busy tourist season with hundreds of fewer dining tables than last year, Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, told the Council on Tuesday.

Not everyone expected to participate showed up for a special workshop arranged to construct a plan, said Luttjohann, because of an unexpected cruise ship schedule change.

Of those attending, he said, there was a “consensus” that the table shortage would have an impact on the upcoming season, especially during the last two weeks of July and during peak travel in August.

Nevertheless, the Chamber president told city officials that a number of measures are being taken to better manage the shortage.

For instance, the Chamber and all of the food service members are putting together a brochure aimed at “managing expectations” of incoming visitors regarding food.

Questioned by Mayor Anni Marshall, Luttjohann said all but three food service vendors on the island are members, but due to the severity of the situation, every food service vendor would be included in the promotion. The brochure would be distributed to ferries and other incoming carriers.

Different strategies have been devised for fine dining and ‘grab and go,’ fare, he added.

Luttjohann explained island activities for National Travel and Tourism Week and said data for last year has just been released.

Catalina is experiencing the same annual rate of tourism growth as the state average, but lower than Los Angeles, which he said was skyrocketing.

Tourism in the state generated 1.4 million jobs, and the travel industry has an annual impact of $132 billion. Direct spending on the industry is $2.8 billion per day.

National immigrant tension is having an impact on international tourism, he said, while domestic tourism is showing year over year growth.

Luttjohann said the vast majority of visitors to Catalina Island are day trips. Three out of 10 visitors to Catalina Island stay overnight.

In addition, he said the Chamber has met all of its expectations for being “kid friendly,” saying they have reached all of their goals for “Kidalina.”

One of the more powerful impacts of tourism reported by Luttjohann Tuesday is its economic impact. Each household on Catalina Island would have to pay approximately $5000 per year in taxes to have the same level of service if not for visitor impact.

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