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Visit Santa Barbara Marks National Travel & Tourism Week

Visit Santa Barbara, the destination marketing organization for Santa Barbara’s South Coast region, hosted its Annual General Meeting & Tourism Celebration May 10 at Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club.

The event coincided with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated nationwide May 7-13, as well as California Tourism Month in May.

Leading up to it, regional travel industry stakeholders joined Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, for Travel Talks roundtable, co-hosted by Visit Santa Barbara and the U.S. Travel Association on May 9 at The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

The U.S. Travel Association is a national, nonprofit that represents and advocates for the travel industry.

Discussion topics at the meeting ranged from the visa-waiver program to airlift, and highlighted policies the state’s congressional delegation can support in Washington to encourage travel and generate economic activity at the local level.

Some 200 guests attended the May 10 event, including city officials, hoteliers, tour operators, and museums and attractions staff.

The annual event honors the hospitality industry and highlights the importance of travel and tourism to the economy of the South Coast, a destination that attracts 6.1 million visitors annually.

This year’s theme, Experience Elevated, focused on inspiring the industry to continue to elevate Santa Barbara’s offerings and the destination brand. Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes touched on the state of the industry:

“On the local level, Santa Barbara’s tourism business continues to be strong,” she said. “But now is not the time to rest on our laurels … It’s critical that we keep innovating.”

Visit Santa Barbara gave its annual Destination Awards, the Rivvies (named for The American Riviera), to Downtown Santa Barbara, now in its 50th year; and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider recognizing their contributions supporting tourism.

Keynote speakerm professional climber Kevin Jorgeson, discussed his pioneering free climb of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall in 2015, and shared his thoughts on what it takes to reach the top in his talk, What Are You Capable Of?

There also was a Q&A with Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo.

Outgoing members of Visit Santa Barbara’s Board of Directors were thanked. They are: Michael Cohen, owner/director of Santa Barbara Adventure Company; Paul Hoyle, president of H. Parker Hospitality; and Richard Nahas, general manager of Glenn Annie Golf Club.

VSB also welcomed the following incoming board members, who will serve one-year terms:

Skip Abed, owner of Santa Barbara Sailing Center; Rick Boller, executive director of operations of Santa Barbara Bowl; and,

Also, Maggie Campbell, executive director of Downtown Santa Barbara; Kristen Miller, president/CEO of Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Neil Poisson, general manager of The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Karen Earp, general manager of Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, will continue as board chair for 2017-18.

Sponsors for the Annual General Meeting & Tourism Celebration included Destination Analysts, Miles Partnership, Sparkloft, Adara and TripAdvisor.

— Natalie Bovee for Visit Santa Barbara.


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