Mayor Alice Patino and Bob Hatch embrace after she presents him with the Mayor's Award

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau honored its President and CEO Bob Hatch with the Mayor’s Award, an honor bestowed upon a Santa Maria resident or organization every year at its annual Tourism Luncheon at the Far Western Tavern on May 7 during National Travel & Tourism Week.

This special honor comes on the cusp of Hatch’s upcoming retirement. Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) Manager Gina Keough, states that “As we celebrate tourism and the positive effects it has on our city, it is only right to honor the one person who has impacted Santa Maria’s tourism the most.”

When he came here 20 years ago, the Chamber was in a horrible state. Bob got everything back on track. During that time period, Bob hired Nancy Bjork as the first VCB Manager during his tenure here. He designed all the VCB’s programs and wrote the job descriptions for all three positions – which are still in place to this day.

Bob has been the best champion for tourism out of anyone during his time leading the Chamber. He has been instrumental in relaying the importance of tourism to our city’s economy and in protecting its position and funding.  He is a well-respected citizen and business leader in our city. His voice speaks wisdom and foresight. He sees the bigger picture and encourages others to do so. He is community minded and a huge supporter of businesses of all types and sizes here in our city.   This award is long overdue.

Scouts executive director Angel Ortega accepts the $100 donation from Bob Hatch

Under Bob’s leadership, the VCB has continued to gain momentum through consistently marketing our city for leisure,meetings/conventions, filming and sporting/special events – even during the worst of times.  Those bad economic times seem to be fading away behind us if this year’s midyear numbers are any indication – During the first half of this fiscal year, travel and tourism brought $1,486,134.06 in revenue to our city – an increase of 13% over last year’s figures for the same time period. This is a Return on Investment to the City of Santa Maria of $986,344.06.

“Bob Hatch has not only secured the VCB’s existence, but also countless jobs and businesses in our city,” Keough stated. “Visitors spend money on travel related activities, but they also spend money in local businesses of every kind.”   “We applaud Bob Hatch and honor him for two decades of service, leadership, guidance and wisdom, in preserving Santa Maria’s market share of the tourism industry! His contributions to the tourism industry in our city are legendary.”

Part of the award historically has included a $100 check from the Chamber to the Mayor’s Award recipient.  This year, he awarded the money in the form of a donation to the Boy Scouts of America.