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In time for golf tourney: City launches tourism campaign

After a year's worth of delays, the San Diego Tourism Authority is launching its biggest-ever marketing campaign, a $12 million print and TV advertising package that will begin with this weekend's Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines.

The campaign will begin with commercials running this Saturday and Sunday during CBS's telecast of the tournament. CBS expects a viewing audience of nearly 4 million on Saturday and 6 million on Sunday.

“With a captive national audience, we want to show potential visitors that we not only have one of the most beautiful golf courses in America, but that San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with so many fun things to do,” said Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the Tourism Authority.

The commercials will include shots of local beaches, as well as SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway Museum, the Gaslamp district and other tourist sites.

Over the next month, the ads -- together with related print advertisements -- will be rolled out in markets that send the highest volumes of tourists to San Diego, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

The city's promotional efforts were stalled last year when former Mayor Bob Filner temporarily blocked the district from using funds collected by local hotels, and then imposed restrictions on the spending.

Tourism industry officials say that the city suffered as a result, attracting fewer visitors than it would have otherwise.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, who worked to restore the funds, said the delay put the city at a competitive disadvantage to other markets.

"Tourism doesn’t just happen,” he said. "It’s a competitive endeavor. We must market ourselves. Cities across America, from Los Angeles to Orlando, each year spend millions of dollars on advertising. As we found out last year when funding was held up, we fall behind if we don’t market our city.”

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