Elected officials, industry leaders and Visit California Commissioners past and present turned out to toast Visit California’s 25th “Silver” Anniversary in Sacramento on May 3.
Flanked by massive gold-colored letters spelling “California — Dream Big,” hundreds of attendees – including California’s “Dreamer-in-Chief” Gov. Jerry Brown – marked the milestone occasion with an intimate celebration on the arena floor of downtown Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center.
The event commemorated 25 years since the organization’s “cocktail napkin” moment, in which early leaders at an industry event first imagined the private-public partnership and assessment-based funding model that today powers Visit California’s global marketing program. They scrawled their ideas on the only available medium at the time: a cocktail napkin.
A quarter century later, California’s travel and tourism industry is more robust, provides more jobs and generates more tax revenue than ever in its history, marking a seventh straight year of growth in 2016. The evening served as a special recognition of Visit California’s journey to date and a celebration of the leadership who paved the way for the industry’s future.
Visit California Chair Sima Patel and Vice Chair of Marketing James Bermingham co-hosted the event, celebrating the leaders in attendance and sharing marketing content from the Visit California “vault.”
Attendees were treated to a highlight reel of TV spots over the past two decades, dating back to a trailer for the 1999 film that laid the foundation for Visit California’s modern marketing program, “Adventures in Wild California.”
During the night’s programming, Gov. Jerry Brown was awarded a special “silver” Poppy Award for his service to the tourism industry. Since reassuming office in 2011, Gov. Brown has presided over a new era of prosperity for Visit California, providing leadership through some of the organization’s biggest milestones, including the passage of the Dream Big Dividend in 2014. He remarked on the importance of tourism to California after receiving his award.
“California wouldn’t be where it is now if we didn’t have a lot of dreamers,” Gov. Brown said.
Guests were also given commemorative Silver Anniversary “Yearbooks,” which served as a historical retrospective on Visit California’s history and growth. Throughout the night, leaders who have played different roles in California’s tourism story over the years swapped books and signed the pages within, sharing memories from the past quarter century together.
Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center was a fitting location for the event, with culinary serving as a foundational pillar of the Visit California program. California’s capital city is also the “farm-to-fork” capital of the world, and the new downtown arena embodies that ethos as one of the most sustainable green buildings in the country.
Closing out the night, Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta surprised guests by bringing out special musical guest and California brand ambassador Aloe Blacc. After a brief fireside chat between Beteta and the best-selling singer-songwriter, Aloe and his six-piece band took to the stage for an intimate and electrifying performance, closing his set with, fittingly, a cover of “California Dreamin’.”
The event marked the end of an era for Visit California and the state’s tourism industry, providing an opportunity to look back on how much has changed. In the 25 years since the organization’s origin, the industry has generated more than $2.15 trillion in visitor spending, added 410,000 jobs and played a pivotal role in the future of the Golden State’s economy and culture.
The growth to date sets the stage for the next 25 years, a pledge that was inscribed on pins that each attendee wore at night’s end that read, simply: “Dream Big 50.”
12/9/2014 0 Comments
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