Disney is the master of tourism marketing, right? Katy Moss Warner, former director of Disney’s horticulture and environmental initiatives at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, informed Morro Bay In Bloom members and luncheon guests that communities with a tourism-based economy would probably be surprised why visitors are visiting. In the 1990s, a Disney assessment survey revealed 75 percent of their visitors were repeats and the No. 1 reason for their return was the atmosphere.
“We deserve beauty in our lives,” said Warner, president emeritus of the American Horticultural Society. “Our communities need to articulate and implement it (beauty).” She also serves on America In Bloom’s board of directors.
She described cultural tourism as the reason most tourists return, stay longer and spend more in the community. Visitors want to experience a community’s lifestyle, history, art and architecture, elements that shape a way of life. After a morning of touring Morro Bay In Bloom’s collaborative community projects, she said, “You need to tell your story.”
For the second year, Morro Bay In Bloom is participating in America In Bloom’s National Awards Program, which will evaluate Morro Bay’s community beautification projects integrating floral design, urban forestry, environmental and heritage preservation.
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Morro Bay In Bloom’s president, Walter Heath, provided the required community profile application in a pictorial booklet. It included numerous Adopt-a-Park projects, such as the Centennial Staircase and visitors center; pictures and a listing of multiple community groups planting 50 Monterey cypress trees at the Morro Bay Golf Course to attract the monarch butterfly; participation in the Morro Bay Eelgrass Recovery Program; the partnership with the Central Coast Maritime Museum on a future historical interpretation center; and the creation of a new community event, the Surfboard Art Festival.
From July 10 to 12, Warner and Karin Rindal, an award-winning master gardener/horticulturist and gardening columnist from New Jersey, visited as America In Bloom judges to review how Morro Bay compares with other award applicants.
“Sometimes you need an outside perspective — different eyes and ears — suggesting community needs,” Rindal said.
The judge’s reviews and recommendations for improvement will be provided soon after the America In Bloom Symposium and Awards on Sept. 23 and 24 in Holland, Mich. The 2016 America in Bloom Symposium is scheduled for Arroyo Grande.
The judges congratulated Morro Bay for broad-based community volunteerism, its hidden gardens and mural projects.
Warner said: “Walter’s community profile is one of the best I’ve ever read.”
Morro Bay In Bloom’s motto and weekly call to action is … “Beautifying Morro Bay two hours at a time.” On Saturday mornings, an informal group of volunteers meet and “beautify” a location posted at www.facebook.com /MorroBayInBloom.
“I’m not a gardener, but I can pull a few weeds,” volunteer “Bloomie” Glenn Silloway said. “I enjoy the camaraderie of the group.”