We are unique location of Silicon Valley well worth spending a day or two exploring

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

As COVID-19 eventually — hopefully soon — starts to reduce its impact across America with the widespread distribution of vaccines, the economy will start to revitalize as people can once again travel freely and attend festive events with large crowds. This is an opportunity for the South Valley in promoting tourism in the region and thus build businesses and create jobs for thousands of our residents.

Efforts are now being made by leaders in the communities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill to stimulate the local economy through tourism efforts. Both cities have organizations designed to market themselves as tourism destinations. Visit Morgan Hill and Visit Gilroy have developed initiatives through marketing online and other methods to encourage visitors to come to the their cities and discover the many vacation or day-trip delights we offer. Attractions include our restaurants, stores, wineries, outdoor adventuring areas, and family fun attractions such as Gilroy Gardens and the soon-to-open Magical Bridge inclusive playground in Morgan Hill.

There are tremendous opportunities to boost our local economy through tourism through marketing to visitors coming to the Silicon Valley region for vacations. A report by Team San Jose (which manages the city’s marketing to visitors) published two years ago showed that 935,000 people came to San Jose from international destinations in 2017. The highest number at 44 percent were Mexicans who journeyed to the city to visit family. About 10 percent were from Canada. More than 50,000 people that year traveled from China and that number is expected to rise significantly this decade.

According to Team San Jose’s report, only about one in five visitors in 2017 who stayed overnight came for work. The report quotes a study by research firm Travelhorizons that found 43 percent of visitors who come to San Jose are interested in outdoor adventuring opportunities. And 39 percent of visitors show interest in the Silicon Valley’s culture including art, museums and food.

What might this report potentially mean for the South Valley region’s own tourism endeavors? It tells us that there is tremendous opportunity to grow our local economy once the pandemic has run its course and society opens up enough to allow tourists to travel once again by attracting international visitors to discover the South Valley region a short drive from San Jose. The key is for Gilroy and Morgan Hill tourism initiatives to team up and market our rural region of Santa Clara County as an exciting destination that offers a different and exciting experience to day-trip and overnight visitors who want to learn about a unique side of Silicon Valley.

We have much to offer people seeking adventure on a vacation. For those who like exploring nature, we have plenty of parks from the redwood-shaded Mt. Madonna County Park to the ranchland trails of Henry W. Coe State Park. Outdoor activities also include bicycling on pathways such as the Coyote Creek Trail and golfing at courses including Coyote Creek and the CordeValle resort.

For those who enjoy wine and food, our multitude of family-run wineries and restaurants as well as farm-fresh bounty provide an experience that can rival Napa Valley without all the crowds. For those who enjoy shopping, the region offers a host of retail adventuring from the Gilroy Premium Outlets to the unique boutique shops and other stores found in our two downtowns and other locations.

The opportunities for tourists are still evolving. Gilroy is encouraging proposals to develop land it owns adjacent to Gilroy Gardens to create a recreational corridor in Hecker Path. The site can connect to a biking/walking paved trail that leads to downtown Gilroy and includes beautiful artwork such as murals featuring the cultural and natural heritage of the city. Once it’s completed in downtown Morgan Hill, The Granada Hotel will become a major attraction for high-end visitors who want a luxury place to stay the night on overnight trips. They will come for our wineries, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions such as the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival and Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Success in the South Valley’s efforts to bring more visitors to the region will help to improve and enhance the quality of life for all our residents. These “out-of-towners” will add to the coffers of the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill through the sales tax revenue they bring in, helping to pay for various services including police and fire to make our communities safer. And the key to that success is for the two cities to join forces and co-promote the South Valley to vacationers both international and domestic through marketing and other marketing activities.

We are unique location of Silicon Valley well worth spending a day or two exploring once COVID-19 is no longer a threat to public health. Let’s get that message out to the rest of the world.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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