Monterey County Visitors Bureau Response

Hi Kate

Thanks for sharing this feedback. And I’d also like to thank you for sharing with your followers the list of things we are doing to support responsible tourism in Big Sur ( One of the main points of that list was to illustrate the wide range of ways we are trying to support the businesses in Big Sur and the people they employ – but do so in a way the emphasizes respect for the environment and the people who live in Big Sur.

As much as we are doing to maintain balance, there is always room for more ideas and collaboration. So appreciate your sharing this latest comment. Some feedback on that:

· Bixby Bridge – clearly we know people are going to take pictures. So much of our messaging is designed to encourage people to be safe and smart. To use proper parking/pull-outs and be cautious at all times… We’ve posted such messaging in our social channels, stress this with travelers who come to our Visitor Center and among other things on our website, we have a Dos & Don’ts page for Big Sur on our website that further elaborates on this.
· On the line of copy about “sleep under the stars” – this was vague so we made more specific and refer directly ‘sleep under the stars… at Fernwood Resorts’. This has been updated in our material.
· One of the comments in today’s post ( was whether MCCVB was directing people – on purpose or inadvertently – to private property. We certainly do not do this, in fact, we ask travelers to be respectful specifically of private property. But we’ll look at our messaging to see how we can further emphasize.

Again, we appreciate your sharing the outreach we are doing with your followers as well as receiving critical comments so that we can address. In fact, we’ve gone to great lengths over the years – not just related to the road closure – to ensure we are not ‘disconnected with Big Sur’. But there is always opportunity for more and better connectivity. So please feel free to reach out to me directly anytime with any suggestions.

Given that Big Sur is one of the most iconic and beautiful places on Earth, we know people are going to travel to experience it. The question is how can we make them more respectful tourists – that is a top priority.

Please let me know of any further questions/suggestions/ideas. We’ll take all the collaboration we can get…

Many thanks

Rob O’Keefe

Thanks, Rob for being so receptive. Now, if we could just find ways to get the “on the ground funding” we need for porta potties, trash collection, and patrolling to prevent campfires and illegal camping. Anything you can do in that regard, we would be very appreciative of, because no matter how much educating we try to do, it will not reach probably more than 1/2 the people it needs to reach. Of the 4000 people a day who contact you, how can we know how many don’t bother?

8 thoughts on “Monterey County Visitors Bureau Response

  1. I had a chance to read their website and found their framing to be weak or worse misleading. I would highly recommend a few more key changes. The way they structure the Dos and Donʻt list, if one is scanning this list, it could lead them to read the Donʻt list as a list of things to do. Remember, for many of our visitors, English is a second language. I would strongly recommend putting the word Donʻt in front of each of those bullet items. I would also add a few more items, like do not defecate or urinate or leave toilet paper on or near the highway, Also, I think a much better job could be done on this website to underscore what a good tourist can do to have a low footprint. And how about do not park over the fog line, and do not pull into a full turn out, there are more empty ones further up the road, and how about the speed limit is 55 in most places along the highway, not 25 or 35. And lastly, Do not stop and park your car on the highway, ever. This is a Scenic Highway, not a parking lot. Oh and how about “pack it in and pack it out.” Also, camping on Highway One is illegal. The website uses weaker wording. Why not be clear that it is illegal and you will be cited? Also, unless Fernwood has outdoor beds, not sure why the “under the stars” needs to be left in there. Fernwood might end up with campers in the parking lot…

  2. Deep breath! I appreciate the outreach effort that is being made by the County. The reason they have is because residents have been speaking up due to the negative impacts on our living environment and quality of life. We all know the importance of tourism for our economy and jobs. However in just a very short period of time, 3 to 5 years, I have seen more change than in the past 30. Not just in Big Sur but also the Monterey Peninsula. It went well over the carrying capacity that our roads and infrastructure can handle. This not only effects the people who call this wonderful place home but also the visitor. Do they want to sit in bumper to bumper traffic from Marina to Point Lobos? Do they want to wait 2 hours for a table at Nepenthe? Do they want to risk their lives on HWY 1 having to park 1/2 mile away from all the iconic spots being promoted everywhere you look? Do they want to pullover in a scenic pullout that smells and is littered with toilet paper and trash?
    I saw an article last year that stated Big Sur was the second most popular travel destination in California. Disneyland being the first. Our county representatives need to realize that most of us chose to live in this area to be as far away from the crowds of Disneyland as possible. This is why the overpromoting of Big Sur and the Peninsula has become such a hot topic. Let it’s natural beauty promote itself and use the advertising money for enforcement to protect the coast and keep us safe.

  3. On my one trip to the area as a single person in the vehicle, I found myself wanting to pull over more I should because I could not look and drive at the same time. I was lucky and unlucky enough to have car trouble and have to have a tow. The veiw of the sunset from that high perch in the tow truck was amazing.

    Later on that same trip I visited the Grand Canyon. I found myself wishing there had been a similar shuttle bus system at Big Sur. Many of their overlooks can only be accessed by hiking or by bus. The busses provided the sanitation and trash that Big Sur needs and allowed spectacular veiws. Probably not very practical. Big Sur busses would need to have frequent stops going south and no stops going north. Still, if I were a resonable tourist bus system in place I would absolutely take it.

  4. Agreed, Myrna. I’ve been to Big Sur five times since 2011, and would love to have the option of riding a bus that stops at all the best turnouts, and not have to worry about dividing my attention between driving and the scenery.

  5. In my view the last thing our tax dollars should be spent on is more promotion. Let’s declare promotion a success and focus 100% of our efforts on protection going forward.

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