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6 Dec 2021
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Open letter to the Catalina Island Tourism Authority and the town and people of Avalon, CA

Please accept this message as a letter of resignation from the Board of Directors of the Love Catalina group.

I am sorry that it has come to this, however I feel like our goals are not any longer aligned. 

Primarily, I cite the idea of this ludicrous and improperly managed TBID that still remains a mystery to most.

I actually do LOVE CATALINA and moreover our residents and travelers of Avalon, which is why I encourage a raise of TOT dollars by one percent that I think myself and several like-minded people would be happy to pay. A TOT that can go into the general fund of the city would adequately respect the needs of the community after years of success and hard work by both the city and residents. These funds could then be appropriately managed by the city and its staff experts, its voters and elected officials. If it were to happen that the voting public chooses to revoke the amount of TOT that goes to the Love Catalina group or not is not my affair. The people of Avalon can choose to continue to support at the level engaged and they truly deserve that right.

Secondarily, I have absolutely no confidence in the leadership of the organization. From tactics to stacking the board all the way to the extreme to executive committee members telling me they intentionally withheld information to make this group grossly overfunded while sitting on healthy reserves… this group is misguided if not a mockery of pilfering. Further, to hold a seat on the board and have representation in the marketing committee, the ‘stay wild’ campaign concept is a farce that is continuing to be fueled by our dollars. My input could, or maybe even should, have been considered before paying a marketing consultant who comes up with the hackneyed copy/paste strategy of ‘STAY’ instead of something that doesn’t show up on every destination page. This feels like a slap in the face.  Instead, we have ads that say ‘stay wild’ with a bicycle trip down casino way… if nothing else, calling Avalon “wild” is disrespectful.

No one that I have talked to wants our small town to be considered the wilderness and I am confident that no resident wants to invite wild things happening on our streets. I can break down the marketing campaign much further, but the creative concept of people moving around on rental bikes does not promote overnight stays.

I am happy for all the people who were recently employed as full-time staff. All islanders having jobs is a great thing for our economy. All of my staff lives on the island full time. This does not mean that the group deserves to, or can be responsible with a double or tripling of their budget. Times were rough, but I would rather see the income on the island go to our infrastructure rather than to the discretion of the people who have tried to remove any dissent from the opportunity to contribute. I happen to think that a club that will not listen to someone contrary is just corrupt as any other political group that cant have a civil discussion. ‘You disagree with me so you are my enemy’ is the stance of children, extremists, intolerants, and this boards leadership.

For the record. Palm Springs area has a TBID and tourism bureau that I love, support, and they support my interests. I additionally there pay for an industry group on a voluntary basis that works to promote and encourage tourism regulation AND fiscal responsibility. None of these are in question. In some cases I pay those dues more than a year in advance with a smile.

Please look to relevant cities which have volunteer organizations that are supported by the people who are receiving the benefit either by legislative support or overnight stay marketing. For my 10s of thousands of overnight visitors, travel to the island is expensive, if it were to become more expensive, they have told us that they would prefer something that helps the community in a sustainable way. That can be done by any resident in public office who wants improvement with more TOT dollars. Further, if you want to support the community, nothing greater can be done than overnight stays. Overnight travelers, leave tips for service staff, keep vendors and contractors employed, and respect our great destination.

On behalf of more than 200 property owners, dozens of friends, hundreds of service providers, thousands of travelers… we all say goodbye and please have good luck coming to your proper heading. We all hope to see a reformed or separate industry group with clear heads and with less focus on profit soon.

Thank you for the opportunity,

Thomas Salinas 
Catalina Island Vacation Rentals, Inc