This spring, Visit California officially turned 25 years old, marking a quarter century since California’s travel and tourism leaders pioneered an organization that has become a model around the world.
Over the years, we have grown from a collection of competitors into a coalition of thousands of businesses and hundreds of destinations – a collective that has been consistently guided by the same singular, defining principle: That we can only succeed if we work together to make tourism happen.
I am proud to say we have done just that. The release of Visit California’s latest annual economic impact report tells the story of California tourism in the first full year at the landmark Dream Big Dividend funding level, and it reinforces that today, tourism is more important to our communities than ever.
Earlier this month, industry leaders, Visit California Commissioners past and present, and elected officials – including our “Dreamer-in-Chief” Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. – gathered to commemorate this milestone with Visit California’s 25th “Silver” Anniversary in Sacramento. The event served as a recognition of all that we have built as partners as we set the stage for the years ahead.
The next day at our Spring Board Meeting, the Commission voted to approve Visit California’s FY17/18 budget, effectively laying the foundation for the organization’s efforts in the next quarter century and beyond.
New Commissioners elected. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to elect Charlie Cahill, senior vice president at InterContinental Hotels Group, and Russ Cox, executive vice president at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, to fill elected vacancies in the accommodations segment.
Commissioners Cahill and Cox both bring an immense wealth of experience to the Board, and I know I speak for everyone in saying that we are thrilled to have their expertise guiding the program.
Activating ‘All Dreams Welcome.’ At Visit California’s Winter Board Meeting, the Board approved a historic $1 million appropriation to fund the “All Dreams Welcome” initiative, which optimizes on our existing brand campaign. Since then, the initiative has served as a foundational platform for Visit California’s international efforts.
The initiative is guided by intensive global sentiment research, which indicated sensitivity in select markets in response to the national political climate, including our biggest international visitation drivers Mexico and Canada. As part of our response, this month Visit California is leading a high-level delegation of industry leaders and elected officials to our North American neighbors to deepen relationships and underscore our commitment to these important markets.
Our gateway partners have been essential in the development of this initiative, and localized activations in destinations throughout the state – including Los Angeles’ “Everyone is Welcome” and San Francisco’s “Always Welcome” campaigns – have helped bring this message to life at the local levels.
California Tourism Month comes to life. Since the California Legislature voted last year to declare May California Tourism Month, we have been looking forward to using this spotlight to illuminate the value of tourism throughout the state.
In addition to a full slate of speaking events, Visit California launched the #CATourism at Work social campaign for industry partners to engage and highlight the faces behind an industry that provides more than 1.1 million jobs in California.
The “travel matters” message is now front-and-center for elected leadership in Sacramento in the form of a 60-foot installation at the State Capitol. Titled “Travel Matters to California,” the installation illustrates tourism’s impacts in all 58 California counties in each of the state’s 12 regions.
Finally, in a historic demonstration of support from destinations throughout the state, 10 California cities – from major urban centers like San Diego to beyond-the-gateway regions like Fresno and Bakersfield – passed resolutions recognizing the value of travel in their local communities and joining the Golden State’s tourism industry in commemorating Visit California’s 25th Anniversary.
As has been the case for the last quarter century, it remains my privilege to partner with each of our incredible leaders and dreamers as we continue to make tourism happen for the next generation of California.
Here’s to another 25 years of Dreaming Big together.
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