San Joaquin River Valley Travel and Tourism Summit

Successful San Joaquin River Valley Travel and Tourism Economic Summit held

Approximately 130 business, industry and community leaders attended the first ever San Joaquin River Valley Travel and Tourism Economic Summit presented by the Great Valley Center on May 22, 2013, at California State University, Stanislaus.  The program of speakers and presentations pointed out the economic importance of tourism in California and highlighted the need for the San Joaquin Valley to market the region and its Rafting on the riverabundance of resources, from the San Joaquin River to agritourism, in order to capture a bigger portion of tourism dollars coming into the state.

The Summit kicked off with a video provided by the Alexandria Perrin Company, followed by a panel discussion on the opportunities for agritourism which included presentations by Denise Skidmore, Hilmar Cheese Company; Penny Leff, UC Davis Small Farm Program; Nancy Beckman, Lodi Conference and Visitor Bureau and Cindy Lashbrook, Merced River Dance Farms.  Wes Rhea, Stockton CVB, gave a presentation on the current economic impact of tourism in the Valley, and Dan Leavitt, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, highlighted the opportunities to promote travel through the valley on Amtrak.

Dave Koehler, San Joaquin River Partners, explained efforts underway to have the San Joaquin River declared a “National Blueway” and the benefits of such a designation.  Chris Murphy described Modesto’s branding and marketing initiative to capitalize on being the inspiration for George Lucas’s film “American Graffiti.”

Layla Forstedt, Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau spoke about pursuing a regional approach to attracting visitors to the valley, and Glen Roberts presented information on the U.S. Commercial Service (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce) and the National Export Initiative. Karen Fish, Visit California, showcased statewide efforts to market California for domestic and international tourism.

David Hosley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sierra Nevada Research Institute, UC Merced, shared information on the how the Sacramento area developed a regional approach to marketing, and Richard Jantz pointed out that the San Joaquin Valley region receives far fewer tourism dollars and tax dollars from tourism than comparable agricultural areas such as Napa Valley.

Fast Facts:  San Joaquin River Valley (Fresno to San Joaquin County) travel spending for the six counties in 2010 was 2.9 billion, and travel generated employment was 32,040 and travel related tax revenue was $196.9 million.