Community members are being featured in short online videos that highlight how tourism affects Santa Monica courtesy of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau held a summit May 7 to highlight the economic impact in Santa Monica and the tourism outlook.
Tourism activity supports nearly 12,000 jobs in Santa Monica, and brings in over $1 billion to the City, according to the organization. Despite an economic recession, tourism increased 13.5 percent in 2008-2009, compared to previous years , and annual volume reached a record 6.3 million visitors. California, New York and Arizona represent the top three domestic destinations in the travel market.
Starting May 11, one video per week will be posted onto SMCVB’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/travelsantamonica, with a total of 16 videos posted by the end of the summer. The videos are about a minute long and feature scenic views of the City. The first shorts feature Das Jesson, owner of Islands Surf Camp, released May 11 and Desmond Bedlow, a steel drummer street performer released May 18. Videos featuring Kay Pattison as a docent for City tours is set for May 25 and Jonathon Conant, owner of Trapeze School New York, will be released June 1.
Hitting the Waves
Das Jesson is the owner of the Islands Surf Camp that has operated in Santa Monica for 15 years. Surfers of all levels and ages can get two-hour private lessons “on the beach culture” with practiced instructors. Jesson, who first surfed at age five, said the business has been growing each year with entire families joining in.
Jesson owns his father’s old surf shop, which inspired the surf camp name and relocated to 1335 4th Street as ‘Santa Monica Surf Shop.’ The camp is offered to children and teens to get a five-day experience in surfing techniques at locations all along the southern coast. Islands also works with “at-risk youth” in addiction recovery and also with specialized needs groups through special surfing programs.
Taking to the Streets
Desmond Bedlow has been playing the steel drums for over 30 years. Born in Tobago, of the sister islands Trinidad and Tobago, he came to Santa Monica after playing in venues around the world. Now he can be seen performing at the Santa Monica Pier or Third Street Promenade to visitors meandering the streets.
As part of one of the top steel orchestras Tobago, he performed for the Queen of England, audiences throughout the Caribbean, and political leaders in his native home. In the U.S. he performs solo for events throughout California. Bedlow said he enjoys the beauty of the pier and the diverse visitors that find Santa Monica to be a top destination.
Kay Pattison meets people from all over the world as a docent for three different Santa Monica tours. At the age of 76, she is the oldest volunteer for the Downtown Walking Tour and California Heritage Museum. She also gives tours at the Annenburg Beach House, which she said is her favorite place in Santa Monica aside from her home in the Ocean Park neighborhood.
Love brought her to Santa Monica back in 1982, and she raised two sons who have blessed her with many grandchildren and a great-grandchild. She said Santa Monica is a “very special place” and meeting people on the tours has kept her sharp and young. She still finds joy talking with people about a city steeped in so much history.
Jonathan Conant offers visitors a chance to “fly into the sunset” as the co-founder of Trapeze School New York. Conant opened the school in New York after an inspiring first fly on vacation, which has since led to four locations including the Santa Monica pier in 2008.
Students take-off facing the Santa Monica Bay surrounded by the ocean and beachfront. Working as an instructor, he teaches participants confidence on the trapeze with intensive workshops, short classes, and even kid’s summer programs. Having spent summers in Santa Monica as a child, he expressed in the video his goal of making the City a memorable with a special “life experience” at the pier.
Mirror Staff Writerkatherine@smmirror.com