NAPA -- The Napa Valley will play host to the first North American Wine Tourism Conference, which aims to highlight trends and issues that impact stakeholders within two sectors that are often intimately intertwined.
The conference, set for Nov. 16 and 17 at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, is being organized by Zephyr Adventures, which specializes in adventure travel tours and organizes numerous conferences for the wine industry, and MartinCalder Productions, an event management company. Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute and the Wine Institutue are also partners on the conference, while the Napa Valley Destination Council will host the first night with the help of the Napa Valley Vintners.
It's the second first-of-its kind event that will be happening in Napa in November, as the Flavor Napa Valley food and wine festival will be occurring simultaneously at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. That's no accident, as the two events feature plenty of crossover content and even speakers.
It's also yet another example of Napa County's tourism business improvement district -- which applied a 2 percent assessment to visitor's hotel rooms -- at work, according to Allison Simpson, spokeswoman for the Napa Valley Destination Council.
Some 300 wine and tourism industry representatives are expected to attend, according to organizers. Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute and the Wine Institute will provide a two-day program and panel discussions by leading educators and strategists in both the wine and tourism sectors.
Ray Johnson, director of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute, said the conference will go far in unilaterally addressing trends and issues that occur across all wine tourism destinations, from established locales such as Napa and Sonoma counties to newer, emerging regions.
The conference aims to appeal to wineries looking to increase the number of visitors, wine and tourism promotion agencies and chambers of commerce, companies involved in wine tourism, such as tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, event planners, travel agencies, and wine tourism academics from university programs.
Napa was chosen for the first North American wine tourism conference because of its long-standing history as a wine and tourism destination.
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Speakers include: Caroline Beteta, the president and chief executive officer of the California Travel and Tourism Commission; Dr. Steven S. Cuellar, professor of economics at Sonoma State University where he teaches courses in Microeconomic Theory and Econometrics; Clay Gregory, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Destination Council; Kyuho Lee, assistant professor of marketing at Sonoma State University; Michael Mondavi, founder of Napa-based Folio Fine Wine Partners; Dr. Liz Thach, a management and wine business professor at Sonoma State University in the Wine Business Institute, and numerous others.
Organizers of the conference said that wine tourism destinations are increasingly being sought by travelers. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that some 27.3 million people have taken part in "culinary or wine-related activities while traveling."
For more information on the Wine Tourism Conference, go to www.winetourismconference.com