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Small pilot conference could be boon for tourism

Paso Robles makes bid to host airport conference 2015

Airport transportation

Small pilots convention would be a big boost for local tourism.

The Paso Robles City Council approved a request from Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson to give a formal endorsement to city staff submitting a proposal to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to host the 2015 conference, the Paso Robles Daily News reports.

“Being hosts to this conference, which will draw visitors from all over the west, is both an airport and tourism benefit,” Williamson said, adding that there will be ample opportunities to involve local businesses such as restaurants, hotels, wineries and others in promotion efforts.

Williamson said that the association recently shifted from a large annual conference that was held at one location nationally to there being four or five regional conferences held around the country at smaller airports. The new format was successful this year, so the association has now issued a request for proposals. She said that the one-day event will include 2,500 people in attendance with 1,000 cars and 500 airplanes.

Williamson said that city staff, airport staff and the Paso Robles Airport Association have been working together to resolve the many logistical requirements, as well as identifying, contacting and securing commitment from the key participants that would be necessary to pull of the conference. The involvement of additional community service providers would be secured once Paso Robles is selected as the site and a date determined.

“The first thing is to get this proposal in and see if we get this event,” Williamson said.

She said that the Paso Robles Airport is capable of meeting the site requirements because the conference is close in size to the city’s annual airshow. The three possible event dates impose the least impact on the local event schedule for 2015.

“The [conference] would be a great opportunity for Paso Robles,” Paso Robles Airport Operations Manager Bill Borgsmiler said. “I don’t know if we’ll get it, but it won’t hurt to throw our name in the hat. If we get it, we’ll have it all under control.”

The council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution to express official city support for the event.

“I’d like to say [that] I think this is a great idea for the airport,” Councilman Steve Martin said. ” It draws the exact people we want to draw to Paso Robles.”

Councilman Ed Steinbeck said he thinks it’s a great idea to get the conference to Paso Robles.

“This is the No. 1 best all-weather airport in the United States today, and not enough people know that,” Mayor Pro Tem Fred Strong added.

For transportation from the Paso Robles airport or a wine country tour, call Paradise Limousine Co. at (805) 610-2724.

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