published on December 13, 2013 - 11:39 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Dannion Cunning

Chief Executive Officer
Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau

What we do: We are the primary destination marketing organization for Madera County.


Education: McLane High & Fresno State

Age: 69

Family: Wife Judy, three sons and five grandchildren

How did you come to your position with Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, Dannion?
After having the same position with the Lake Havasu CVB, I was given the opportunity of returning home after being gone 20 years

How did the recent government shutdown affect tourism in the area, Dannion?
We experienced a decline in our domestic visitors, but were kept busy with the international travelers who were unable to adjust or postpone their already planned vacations.

Did you see any impact in visitors from the Rim fire north of Yosemite this year, Dannion?
Being the southern entrance to the park and not directly impacted by the fire, we did not experience the same decline in visitors as other entrances. We spent much time reassuring our guests that we were open for business and so was Yosemite.

What kind of success are you seeing from the Majestic Mountain Loop promotion that the visitors bureau helped develop, Dannion?
The concept of visiting three national parks in three days has drawn a lot of interest and now that we have actual bus tours starting, the idea is being well received. With the collaboration with the Visalia CVB and the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, the tour is really becoming popular.

There’s been more business activity in the Oakhurst area this year. What do you attribute that to, Dannion?
Madera County is the place to be for great quality of life and business opportunities. Oakhurst and all of Eastern Madera County is truly California’s Gateway to Yosemite. What a great place for business to develop and thrive.

Besides Yosemite, what other attractions or destinations do you direct visitors to in the mountain area, Dannion?
Our visitors have so much to experience: world class wineries, museums, the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railway, Bass Lake, historic North Fork, amazing art galleries, the Fossil Discovery Center and abundant recreational opportunities.

What’s unique and special about the Oakhurst and Yosemite area, Dannion?
Great people, beautiful scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities second to none. Truly something for everyone.  

How does the visitors bureau market the area and get people to come back, Dannion?
We have a most aggressive social media and advertising strategy. We market the area by attending numerous consumer and travel oriented trade shows. We do a great deal of collaborative marketing with partners and other regional DMOs as well as working with Visit California and Brand USA.

What are you passionate about, Dannion?
Life and this beautiful place we call home, the Sierra.

What upcoming technological advancements are you most excited about?
The world of technology is moving at warp speed and we are doing all we can to stay current on the latest trends. We attend the annual Technology Conference hosted by The Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus each year.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
I was a lifeguard at the old Wonderland Swim Park that was at Blackstone & Shaw in Fresno. I learned that there is more to life than hanging out at the pool and getting a good tan, but still those days were the best.

What are your roots in Central California, Dannion?
My mother and father moved the family here in the late 50s. They produced a live daily children’s television show on KMJ called Lollypop Lane.

What do you do in your spare time, Dannion?
Cooking, gardening and sports are my passion. My hobby is trying to learn languages. I’m currently working on Arabic.

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