To the Editor: RACVB supports casino

The Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, as well as the Ridgecrest hotels and motels, believe the addition of a Native American casino will increase hotel and motel occupancy as reported by numerous sources.

The demand increase is welcomed by the hotel-motel community and the hotel-motel community welcomes this “demand generator.” Increased demand will attract additional hotel and motel patrons to the city of Ridgecrest.

Ridgecrest has the unique opportunity to become a major travel and tourism stopover/hub with the addition of this Native American casino development, which includes components of not only a casino, but also a hotel, large civic event space and restaurant.

The location between several major California attractions, such as Death Valley and Mammoth, will add to the large number of travelers who routinely transit Highways 178, 395 and 14, which are in the millions annually!

The Native American casino operators intend to market directly to this untapped market segment. Travelers to Death Valley and Mammoth are more likely to stop and stay in Ridgecrest because of the Native American casino.

While specific numbers of visitors who will spend the night are not definitively projected, even a modest increased draw to the city of Ridgecrest is very dynamic for the hotel and motel community and many other businesses locally.

Specifically, the weekend travel pattern could see the largest increase, and weekends are the times the hotel and motel community is at its slowest. With this in mind, the additional demand is significant.

This increase in overnight demand pays a 10-percent transient hotel occupancy tax and a 3-percent tourism tax and a modest California tax to fund the “Visit California” marketing program. All of these taxes will benefit our city and are not paid by residents and would be paid by the Native American casino hotel once built.

Ridgecrest hotel and motel occupancy can regularly be lower Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with the city of Ridgecrest hotels and motels receiving 10 percent TOT from every hotel and motel room that is occupied. If the Native American casino can improve the occupancy during 42 percent of the year, the city of Ridgecrest can have significantly higher TOT revenues.

Overall, the Native American casino can provide significant financial benefits to the city of Ridgecrest.

The city of Ridgecrest has made the Annual Petroglyph Festival a signature event, in which Ridgecrest and the RACVB have embraced petroglyphs; for example, just look at China Lake Boulevard with all the median Art of Petroglyphs!

As a community, if we have embraced Petroglyphs as part of our identity, how can we reject the Native American Casino by the same tribe which the Ridgecrest City Council had voted on and approved the Native American casino’s development?

The Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, as well as the Ridgecrest hotels and motels, officially supports and endorses the development of a Native American casino, hotel and associated attractions for the benefit of tourism in the region for the reason that the Native American casino will be a demand generator for creating tourism and jobs, which will benefit local businesses, restaurants, museums, etc.

The Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, as well as Ridgecrest hotels and motels are excited by this new tourist demand generator, and as large future marketing partners, we welcome this Native American casino development and look forward to promoting Ridgecrest together!

Douglas Lueck, executive director RACVB

Story First Published: 2018-04-13