Yakima Valley Visitors Center Celebrates 10 Years

More than 70 people gathered at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center (VIC) May 30th to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the center. Dedicated May 22, 2003, the center was built to be the gateway center to Washington Wine Country. It’s Tuscan themed design and ambiance has earned it the reputation of being one of the most beautiful visitors centers in the Northwest.

Featured speakers were former Yakima Mayor Mary Place and former VCB CEO and current Yakima City Council member Kathy Coffey. Both shared stories and fun moments related to the building and opening of the center. In addition to food and live music, new VCB winery members J. Bell Cellars and Reflections Vineyards were on hand for wine tasting.

The VIC is located of I-82 at 101 North Fair Avenue near Target in Yakima, Washington. For more information call (509) 573-3388 or (800) 221-0751.

Folks celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yakima Valley VIC

Folks celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center

Yakima Valley VCB CEO John Cooper and City of Yakima Council Member Kathy Coffey serve up the cake.

Yakima Valley VCB CEO John Cooper and City of Yakima Council Member Kathy Coffey


VIC Manager Pam Alamos talks with former Yakima Council Member Bernie Sims

VIC 10 Yr Party

J.Bell Cellars owner and winemaker Wes Teslo pours a sample.

Vintage and Show Trucks Roll In To Yakima This Month

Vintage TruckHundreds of antique trucks and thousands of trucking enthusiasts will gather in Yakima, WA, May 30-June 1, for the American Truck Historical Society’s (ATHS) 2013 National Convention and Antique Truck Show. The event will take place at the Yakima Valley SunDome and State Fair Park. Organizers are expecting nearly 900 trucks with convoys coming from Canada, Montana, and California.  The event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased at the gate.

Trucks of nearly every vintage and make will be represented at the show, from the high spoke-wheel trucks of the early 1900’s to the big 18-wheeler rigs seen today on America’s highways.  A new feature of the convention is the addition of the National Association of Show Trucks, who will meet in conjunction with the ATHS national convention.  This is expected to draw more trucks and different varieties to the show.

“We are excited to have helped bring this major event to Yakima,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB). “When local enthusiasts approached the VCB in 2008 about attracting the convention, we jumped at the chance.”  The VCB assembled and presented the bid to the ATHS board and has since coordinated a number of support activities including local tours for the attendees and arranging volunteers. Special thanks to the local organizers, hospitality community and State Fair Park for their roll in putting on this event.

The American Truck Historical Society was founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve the history of trucks, the trucking industry and its pioneers. The non-profit group is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has over 20,000 members worldwide. Additional details on the convention are at http://www.aths.org/convention

Here are pictures from the show at State Fair Park:

ATHS Truck Show May 2013 AATHS Truck Show May 2013 F

ATHS Truck Show May 2013 C

ATHS Truck Show May 2013 B

ATHS Truck Show May 2013 G

Yakima Hosts Meeting Professionals

Over the course of two days this week, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and the local hospitality industry hosted an educational forum for twelve state and regional meeting planners and association executives.

During their stay, the meeting professionals discussed issues facing the meeting industry and tactics to improve their programs and services. In addition, hotel management staff were in attendance to learn and share insights.

The sessions were coordinated by Linda DiMario, a long time tourism and meetings expert from Long Beach California. This is the third time Linda has conducted the forum and was well received by the attendees.

In addition to the formal programs, the planners and executives were treated to social events, enjoyed catering creations from the new Convention Center caterer Centerplate and a participated in luncheon at the Yakima Valley Museum.

Yakima Valley Hosts Brand USA UK Tour

UK travel agents and their 'Sunbrellas' at Silver Lake Winery

UK travel agents and their ‘Sunbrellas’ at Silver Lake Winery

As a conclusion to National Travel and Tourism Week, last weekend the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau hosted nine United Kingdom travel agents, tourism staff from the Port of Seattle and media on a whirlwind tour of the Valley as part of  a MegaFam sponsored by Brand USA with the Port.

As part of their visit the travel agents visited wineries, saw the Canine and Wine fundraiser, took a hayride, toured the murals in Toppenish, had a wine makers dinner at Treveri Cellars, enjoyed brunch at Birchfield Manor and stayed at downtown hotels. The Yakima Valley was part of a Washington and Oregon multi-day tour entitled Pacific Playground. Here’s a blog entry about their time in the Valley.

The mega-familiarization tour included seven simultaneous itineraries incorporating some of the United States’ most iconic destinations. Each itinerary offerered an incredible experience from the western wilds of Utah and Colorado; the urban playgrounds of the East Coast; the rich culture of Texas; the laid back lifestyle of California; the creole flavors of the Deep South; the Pacific Playground journey and the Great Lakes region. MegaFam participants were selected among an elite group of travel agents from the UK and Ireland who booked trips to the USA from January 1 – April 5, 2013 via Brand USA’s partner airlines, British Airways and American Airlines, and ground transportation partner, Avis.
Brand USA is the nation’s first cooperative destination marketing organization. They focus on delivering programs that increase awareness and enhance the image of the United States among worldwide travelers and encourage travel to the United States. In addition to promoting the United States as a travel destination they work with the Federal government to communicate US entry and security processes that will help make the journey to and into the United States easier and more welcoming.

The Travel and Tourism Industry: We Create Memories

NTTW13_V_4C_jpgThink back to your fondest memories. Chances are that many revolve around a trip or journey. Your first breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon as a young child. Seeing Abraham Lincoln perched on his chair as you walk up the steps of his memorial in Washington D.C. Maybe it’s just time spent with family or loved ones as you explore a new place together. Cherished moments.

Sure vacations have their mishaps. A missed plane, an illness in a foreign country, a feeling of desperation with language barriers. But even these set-backs can be life enriching through lessons learned and stories to tell.

This week those of us in the travel and tourism industry celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week. Mostly we trumpet what this amazing industry means to our country from an economic view point. It is substantial. According the U.S. Travel Association, travel generates $2 trillion for the U.S. economy and supports nearly 15 million American jobs. Travel contributes more than $129 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Here in the Yakima Valley visitors spend in excess of $350 million each year and support more than 3,500 local jobs.

But I think that travel offers something even more important. It’s a force for helping all of us to learn from other cultures, to be more understanding of the people and issues that shape our world. To connect with people. I remember a business trip I took to Haiphong, Vietnam, a few years back. During free time, our group wandered into the streets near our hotel. In no time I became separated from the others and I lost my bearings in the narrow, congested streets. A street vendor who had approached me earlier to buy post cards realized I was lost. He guided me back to the main boulevard within sight of the hotel, never asking for anything in return. He just smiled and pointed at the hotel. I bought a packet of his post cards and have them framed in my home. Needless to say that simple gesture helped to shape my view of Haiphong.

While the travel and tourism industry contributes substantially to the economic well-being of our communities, its fundamental mission is to serve our guests and to help them to have wonderful, life enriching experiences. In essence, the job of this industry is to help create memories.

John Cooper
President & CEO

National Wine Tourism Day in the Yakima Valley

Wine-Tourism-Day-Logo_final_croppedThe first-ever Wine Tourism Day in North America will take place on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 with wineries and other businesses offering a variety of events to the public throughout North America.

Locally, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) has built a website on visityakimavalley.org that lists wine related events happening that day. In addition, the VCB is hosting British travel agents and tour operators on a tour of the Valley, visiting wineries and other attractions as part of a state-wide tour sponsored by the Port of Seattle and Brand USA.

“Wine tourism is a key focus of our destination marketing efforts,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “We’re pleased to be a partner in this national effort to raise awareness of the wine related tourism.”

According to national event organizers there are more than 7,500 wineries in 205 American Viticultural Areas (AVA), 38 authorized wine appellations in Canada, and another 40 appellations in Mexico. In 2013 the Yakima Valley celebrates 30 years as the Northwest’s first AVA. It has 16,000 vineyard acres and more than 80 wineries.

Wine Tourism Day is supported by a number of industry partners including LocalWineEvents.com, Touring and Tasting Marketing & Media, WineAmerica, the Wine Industry Network, the Wine Tourism Conference, and Zephyr Adventures, in addition to wine and tourism associations in wine regions throughout North America.

For local Wine Tourism Day related events go to www.visityakimavalley.org  Details on national Wine Tourism Day events can be found at  www.WineTourismDay.org