September 2014

California embraces 'the spirit of collaboration'

by Jeff Heilman

For a man temporarily displaced from his workplace, Visit Napa Valley President & CEO Clay Gregory is in an upbeat mood. “Our team is spread all over,” related Gregory by cell phone in early September, one week after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the Napa region and knocked out the bureau’s headquarters. “In the meantime, I am so proud of how our local community and partners have responded, including help and support from the San Francisco Travel Association, Visit California and even the U.S. Travel Association. The spirit of collaboration has never been greater.”

In California, working together to create, nurture and sustain positive outcomes—including healing when necessary—is a way of life. Take Lake Tahoe, for example, where the tight-knit “Tahoe mountain tribe” welcomes new locals and visitors while embracing the ‘live each day to the fullest’ attitude.

“The California lifestyle has inspired generations of innovators, free thinkers and people wanting to reconnect with health and organic living,” says Caroline Beteta, president & CEO of Visit California. “Think Jack O’Neill and the wetsuit, Alice Waters’ pioneering California cuisine, the high-tech innovations of Silicon Valley, the music and movie business. It’s our anything-is-possible vibe and boundless opportunity that sets the backdrop for inspiration for a business traveler from any field.”

In the state that likes to “dream big,” Visit California’s current slogan, and the spirit behind larger-than-life creations such as Hollywood, Disneyland and now taking shape in Cupertino, Apple’s new “spaceship” headquarters, forward-thinking innovators are keeping California healthy for the future.

“California boasts some of the most progressive green destinations and conservation programs in the United States, and one of the most widely adopted sustainable winegrowing programs in the world,” Beteta says. “As a leader of the organic and slow food movements, a pioneer in alternative energy and home to innovative green tourism practices, visitors can enjoy the California lifestyle while minimizing their carbon footprint.”

From Mount Shasta to San Diego, groups following these “footsteps” will find paths to inspiration around the state. As John Reyes, executive vice president and chief sales officer for the San Francisco Travel Association says of this magical city by the bay, “so many ideas and inventions have been born here that one of our themes is ‘San Francisco—It begins here.’”

Back in Napa Valley, there remains some repair work ahead, but this fabled region is open for business—with game-changing developments on the horizon.

“Renowned for our wine and food, Napa is also focused on becoming a total wellness destination, offering spas, yoga, outdoor and related components,” Gregory says. “It’s an investment in our future highlighted by the Napa Valley Wine Trail, stretching 47 miles from Vallejo’s Ferry to Calistoga.

“Now half-complete, this grassroots, community-funded walk and bike trail mean people can reach Napa Valley without having to drive—and from the local community to the environment, everybody benefits,” he adds.

According to Tourism Economics, the outlook for California is 2 percent to 4 percent annual growth in leisure travel and 1 percent to 2 percent annual growth in business travel over the next four years, driven in part by positive consumer sentiment. In choosing California for “local” inspiration, they are on the right path.

View more related California coverage on the 2014 Supplement page!

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