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Tour SMTX transitioning into city department

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Photo by: Lara Dietrich | Multimedia Editor
The Tourist Information Center August 1. The city announced that Tour SMTX will now transition into a city department.

San Marcos has announced the transition of The San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau into a city department.

Tour SMTX, a division of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, has worked closely with city staff for years. Through the CVB, the staff assists those visiting San Marcos to find lodging, restaurants, attractions and history of the city during their visit.

Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, executive director of the CVB, said the entity is embracing the transition but assures there will not be any major changes within the department.

“We do fund 100 percent of their expense already through the city,” said Steve Parker, assistant city manager and CFO. “It just made a lot of sense as far as management, being tied closely together and making sure we’re really managing all of our marketing ideas and keeping them coordinated.”

City staff has always worked closely with CVB staff.

“They’re really great,” Parker said. “We’ve seen steady growth in all our hotel and motel revenue as far as I’ve been here. I’ve been here almost 10 years and we’ve just seen steady, active growth.”

The Chamber of Commerce and the CVB has been the city’s marketing arm for a long time, Ybarra-Ramirez said.

“We’ve always worked hand-in-hand,” Ybarra-Ramirez said. “We’ve had to work hand-in-hand with the city because we’re promoting San Marcos.”

Ybarra-Ramirez has been employed by the Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and worked as director of the CVB for 17 years.

“Within those 17 years I have worked with many city departments,” Ybarra-Ramirez said. “In order to advance and know what’s going on and just improve this relationship throughout the city, we work closely with the city.”

Ybarra-Ramirez said all of the programs within the CVB will continue on through the transition.

“Staff will just become city employees,” Ybarra-Ramirez said. “Just minor and simple operations will change. We’re embracing it without issue.”

Ybarra-Ramirez said the strong cooperation with city staff made her and CVB staff feel like city staff before the transition had even started.

“I’ve always felt that I have been a city department,” Ybarra-Ramirez said. “I’ve always felt like I was a city employee. I’ve always participated, I’ve always been invited to meetings as if we were city employees. It’s just going to be an easy transition, if we even notice the transition.”

CVB staff have been treated like a city department and have been included in decisions within the city and its operation so it will be an easy transition for all involved, Ybarra-Ramirez said.

“We’ll just be titled city employees instead of chamber of commerce employees,” Ybarra-Ramirez said. “You never say there won’t be any changes, but I don’t anticipate anything major. Now we’ll be working more closely with the communications department of the city, which is great.”