Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Agritourism topic of Visit Vacaville breakfast

Agritourism topic of Visit Vacaville breakfast

By Jessica Rogness, The Reporter

POSTED: 05/10/17, 6:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 4 DAYS AGO

Visit Vacaville talked tourism over breakfast Wednesday morning at the Opera House.

The 9th annual event highlighted the positive impacts tourism has on the city’s economy, and the breakfast included some local products.

Vacaville’s Soul Food Farm supplied the eggs and High Voltage Donuts had a hearty display of treats. From Suisun Valley, Erickson Ranch brought homemade jams and King Andrews Vineyards provided Albarino pet-nat for mimosas.

Erickson Ranch, Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company, Girl on the Hill boutique vineyard, Morningsun Herb Farm and Lockewood Acres each set up tables with samples of their products.

Many tourists come to Vacaville for the Premium Outlets, Nut Tree Plaza and hotels with reasonable rates, Mayor Len Augustine said.

“We’re very pleased to see people from the outside coming in,” he said.

Many of those outsiders come from the Bay Area, people who want to get out of the city and spend time outdoors, so they also come to Vacaville for the farms.

“Agribusiness has all of a sudden become a big thing,” Augustine said.

However, Solano has always been a farm county, he pointed out.

Carl Ribaudo, president of Strategic Marketing Group Consulting, said agritourism has become a big part of California tourism, and it started with the wine industry.

Visitors want a tangible experience when they get to their destination.

“Shake a farmer’s hand, pet a goat, buy an apple, whatever it may be,” Ribaudo said.

There are many reasons why agritourism is catching on, according to him.

Farmers are trying to generate additional revenue and diversify their farms, and bringing in tourists gives them another way to distribute their products.

But there are also social trends at work, including the “locavore” moment focused on locally grown products, that provide growing support for farms and agricultural businesses, Ribaudo said.

While Wednesday’s breakfast focused mostly on agritourism, Visit Vacaville CEO Melyssa Laughlin provided updates on tourism in general in the city.

Hotels have bounced back from the recession, Visit Vacaville had its biggest restaurant week yet with 14 restaurants participating in January and they will be having their third Farm to Table dinner in July in downtown Vacaville.

Alison Best, executive vice president of member engagement at Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), praised Visit Vacaville’s branding of the city as “Small. In a big way.”

“In fact Melyssa has really put Vacaville on the map nationally,” Best said.

For this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, the U.S. Travel Association put together a “Faces of Travel” video to highlight the people who work in the industry.

Visit Vacaville produced their own version, interviewing local hotel managers, business owners and farmers, including Alexis Koefoed of Soul Food Farm and Ben Lyons of Lockewood Acres.