|// (c) 2011 Wine Tourism Conference|
This fall, wine enthusiasts and tourism experts now have even more reason to head West to Napa Valley, California. On November 16 and 17, 2011, the famed Northern California wine region will play host to the first-ever global wine tourism conference in North America. The event is expected to draw more than 300 domestic and international attendees from throughout the wine and tourism industries as they discuss one of the most popular and fastest-growing niches in culinary travel.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, 17 percent of American leisure travelers, or 27.3 million people, have engaged in culinary- or wine-related activities while traveling.
"With more than 7,000 wineries in the U.S. alone interested in expanding their market share, wine regions are focused on creating attractive destinations that feature a mix of wineries, tasting rooms, conference services and other entertainment attractions," said Elizabeth Martin-Calder, co-organizer of the Wine Tourism Conference and owner of MartinCalder Productions. "This conference will provide wine tourism providers with the knowledge and tools to compete."
The conference, which is being put together in collaboration with Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute and Wine Institute and the association of California wineries, will encompass a two-day program of general sessions and panel discussions guided by educators and strategists in the wine and tourism marketing industry.
Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of the California Travel and Tourism Commission will open the conference with an inaugural address on wine tourism and its impact on California's $95.1 billion tourism industry. Beteta also serves as Vice Chair of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a new organization to promote the U.S. as a premier travel destination in countries around the world.
Additional presenters already scheduled for the conference include: Ray Isle, Wine Editor of Food & Wine magazine; Leslie Sbrocco of the Today Show and Thirsty Girl; and Sara Schneider, Wine Editor of Sunset Magazine.
Conference attendees and their guests may also participate in a series of pre- and post-conference tours and tastings arranged by the Napa Valley Destination Council, Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. The cost to attend the conference is $350.