What’s Up Down Under?

Australia is a country we know is there, but for most of us in North America it’s rarely in our daily thoughts. That has not been the case for me lately. This month I will lead a small group on a trip ‘down under.’ We are a Vocational Technical Team sponsored by Rotary International District 5060, which stretches 550 miles from Prosser, WA to Clearwater B.C. The two-nation district has 59 Rotary clubs and 2,800 members.

District-9500-map

A Rotary sponsored Vocational Technical Team is a group of professionals who travel abroad to share their knowledge and to learn more about their industries from other professionals. Our team will travel to Rotary District 9500, a large area that covers the state of South Australia and part of the Northern Territory. From the coastal city of Adelaide to the remote outback town of Alice Springs it’s a span of 1,531 kilometers or 951 miles. That’s about the driving distance from Yakima WA to Los Angeles.

On the trip we’ll focus our studies in winemaking and marketing, agri-tourism, viticulture and agriculture practices. We’ll tour vineyards, wineries, orchards, croplands and production facilities plus local attractions. We’ll share best practices with colleagues while also learning from them. In addition, we’ll speak to Rotary clubs about our professions and our communities. Then in May, a team with similar professional interests from Rotary District 9500 will come to our region to learn about our wine and agricultural industries.

Team 2

Here’s a short bio on the team (pictured above, from left to right)

Lynn Bremmer has been involved in the B.C. Wine industry for many years.  She was a technician and assistant winemaker at Andres Wines for 7 years and winemaker at Brights Wines for 12 years. Lynn is the current chair of the B.C. Wine Grape Council. She owns and operates a 2 hectare vineyard in Oliver and is a partner with her husband John in Mount Kobau Wine Services supplying field sampling, analysis and wine making/viticulture services to the B.C. wine industry.   Lynn is interested in presenting on the history of the B.C. wine industry and the movement from hybrid grapes to a non-grape/wine industry to a complete re-vamping of the industry to a premium grape/wine industry, as well as grape research at Summerland Research Centre and University of British Columbia.

Jim Blonde owns a U-Pick orchard and intends to deliver training in growing blueberries, apples, raspberries, plums and pretty much all stone fruit, as well as vegetables and hops. He is keen to learn about water conservation using drip irrigation, crop placement, and tourism promotion using social media and web-based advertising. A native of upstate New York, Jim worked in the Department of Defense and has had a multifaceted career in technology and other fields.

Reto Gebert is a viticulturist from Kelowna, B.C. and has had a passion for grapes since he has been able to pluck the berries off the clusters. He currently is the assistant vineyard manager at the family winery, St. Hubertus Estate Winery. After graduating from high school in 2009 he traveled to Ontario to study in the Winery and Viticulture Technician Program at Niagara College. Working part-time at different vineyards, volunteering at winery events and taking part in the Royal Visit at the college, Reto was able to gain a more hands-on approach to the wine industry and how other regions grow grapes. Reto received his diploma in 2011. Over the past few years he has been hopping around to work in different wine regions from Switzerland to New Zealand.

And then there is me, John Cooper of Yakima, WA.  I’m a member of the Yakima Rotary Club and have been President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism since June 2007.  In my position I’ve developed brand strategies and programs to position the Yakima Valley as a wine, craft beverage and agri-tourism destination. My goal for the trip is to learn new ideas to market wine and agricultural based destinations, community development ideas plus share best practices from our region. As team leader I will assist the group with a planning and coordination efforts on site.

Watch for updates and pictures from the trip. G’Day mate!

John

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Yakima Valley Tourism Awarded 2015 Tourism Champion by the Washington State Wine Commission

WSWA 2015 Black LogoWashington State Wine awarded Yakima Valley Tourism the 2015 Tourism Champion of the Year at the Washington State Wine Awards in Seattle Monday January 26th.

“We are honored to be recognized as Tourism Champion of the Year,” said John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “The team at Yakima Valley Tourism works hard to elevate wine tourism for the Yakima Valley and to champion our exceptional wine industry.”

Started in 2002, the awards recognize industry leaders that exhibit strong support of Washington wines and high professional standards in wine service and promotion. According to Washington State Wine, the Washington State Restaurant, Retailer and Tourism Champion of the Year are the most prestigious awards, recognizing industry leaders who show the strongest support for Washington State wine. More than 130 nominations were received for the 2015 awards.

“The winners of the Washington State Wine Awards perform a vital role in shaping Washington State as both a favored destination and a favored home for those who enjoy premium wines with superior quality,” said Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine.

The 15 businesses and individuals recognized as leaders by the Washington State Wine Awards will be featured in a full-page ad in eight key publications and media outlets: Food & Wine, Travel &Leisure, Town & Country, Seattle Met, Elle Décor, Real Simple, Sip Northwest, SeattleTimes.com as the 2015 Washington State Wine Tour Guide.

Yakima Valley Tourism is the official destination marketing organization for Yakima and the Yakima Valley. A non-profit organization, the mission of Yakima Valley Tourism is to stimulate economic development by marketing the Yakima Valley for conventions, groups and leisure travel.

Washington State Wine (also known as the Washington State Wine Commission) represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, the commission provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines.

Washington Wine Flies Free On Alaska Air Program Extended

Taste and Tote Wine Flies Free on Alaska AirWashington Wine Country recently negotiated a two year extension of the popular Taste and Tote program with Alaska Air. The program allows passengers departing from Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla airports to check a case of properly packaged wine on their Alaska Air flight home. Other benefits include waived drop off fees and discounts from Hertz Rent A Car and waived tasting fees at nearly 200 wineries.

“This has been a great program to further develop wine tourism in the region,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism and lead coordinator for the program. “Dozens of cases of wine are flying home each week from Yakima alone, providing local wineries with new business opportunities.”  Cooper also hopes that as the program grows, more people will use Alaska/Horizon Air service to and from Yakima for their travel, which could result in more air service for the community.

Starting July 1st, passengers must be members of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to take advantage of the wine flies free program. Passengers can sign up at no charge by clicking here or at the ticket counter at the three airports. For complete details visit the Taste and Tote Program Details page.

Washington Wine Country is an alliance of the Yakima Valley Tourism, Tri Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau and Tourism Walla Walla. Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism and economic vitality by fostering regional partnerships throughout the celebrated wine growing region of Eastern Washington, where 99 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown.

 

Yakima Valley Tourism Launches Spring Marketing Campaign

findSpringLogo

Yakima Valley Tourism has launched their spring marketing campaign to attract visitors. “Find Spring in the Yakima Valley” targets wine visitors, families and others interested in sunny spring events, local culture and activities.

Visitors to Yakima Valley Tourism’s website Find Spring will find details on seasonal festivals including Spring Barrel Weekend April 25-27, Cinco de Mayo festivities May 3-4 plus numerous other events. Visitors to the website may also enter a Wine Country Get-Away Giveaway that includes lodging, dinner in Downtown Yakima, VIP wine tasting at three Yakima Valley wineries plus a $100 gift card toward new Oakley sunglasses.

“Spring in the Yakima Valley is a unique Washington experience,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “In one destination you can combine sunshine, blooming orchards, spring barrel wine tastings and many other celebrations.”

The campaign is largely focused at consumers online and is supported by media buys in Sunset magazine, online versions of the Seattle Times, Washington Tasting Room Magazine (print and online) and 425 Magazine (print and online) plus social media placements in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Yakima Valley Tourism Professional Recognized For Wine Tourism Efforts

WA State Wine Tourism Award 2014John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism, was presented the 2014 Tourism Concierge of the Year Award by the Washington State Wine Commission in recognition of his service to the wine industry and wine tourism.

Started in 2002 by the Washington Wine Commission, the Washington State Wine Awards acknowledges industry leaders that exhibit strong support of Washington wines and high professional standards in wine service. The Tourism Concierge Award recognizes an individual that represents the tourism or wine industry with the highest professional standards, serves as an example to peers and a mentor for new tourism industry professionals, advances the wine tourism industry as a whole and advocates for its causes.

“I am honored to have been nominated and selected,” Cooper stated. “I give credit to our staff at Yakima Valley Tourism and the wineries in the valley. They also deserve recognition for all they do to advance wine tourism.”

The mission of Yakima Valley Tourism is to stimulate economic development by marketing the Yakima Valley for conventions, groups and leisure travel. Cooper has been with organization since 2007.

A Look at Tourism in the Yakima Valley in 2013

As the new year begins we’re busy finishing up an our Annual Report, which will be out later this month. In the mean time, here are a few the year’s highlights through November:

Convention & Group Sales:  At the end of November the sales department confirmed 94 conventions held (up 11% over same period in 2012), reached 90% of their group leads goal and exceeded their annual hotel room nights confirmed goal by 5% with 35,842 room nights!

The Yakima Convention Center welcomed Centerplate as the new caterer in May after the Red Lion Corporation (which owned M&M Catering) discontinued their contract. Centerplate caters at 300 convention and event venues across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and annually serves more than 115 million guests.

Web marketing: Our main website performed very well. Through November the site saw more than 293,590 visitors, an increase of 24% over 2012. Much of the increased traffic was a result of seasonal campaigns like the current “win a ski day contest with Andy Mahre”.

New websites: The Spirits and Hops Trail was launched in July and celebrates locally made adult beverages and our hop heritage. Yakima Valley Made is a directory of more than 100 locally grown and crafted goods and products. Both sites have been popular and  help us to market Yakima Valley artisan products.

Public Relations/Media: We placed more than 90 travel and lifestyle media pieces in 2013 with an advertising value exceeding $538,000. Click here for a sampling of the stories and features that resulted from our efforts.

Our  Yakima Valley Sports  Commission saw record attendance at their Hot Shots 3 on 3 Tourney with 497 teams, an increase of 8.5% from 2012 and the sixth straight year the team numbers have grown.  In its second year, the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race plunged ahead with 1,484 racers… that’s 60% more participants than in 2012!

The Yakima Valley Visitor Center celebrated 10 years of service in May with a community party. Pam Lakman is the new Manager at the VIC, replacing Pam Alamos who retired.

Wine tourism: The Washington Wine Country alliance continued the Taste and Tote “wine flies free” program with Alaska Airlines. In October we welcomed Hertz as the new rental car partner for the program. Our CEO John Cooper was a speaker at the national Wine Tourism Conference held in Portland last month, highlighting partnerships and local marketing projects. Other projects included seasonal websites for major wine events and wine country focused advertising.

These are just a sampling of the successes and projects for 2013.  Stay tuned for the full Annual Report soon.

Tourism 2020: State of the Tourism Industry in the Yakima Valley

headerImageBlockTM-copyAs the New Year begins, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau is rolling out a number of programs aimed at building all forms of tourism in the Yakima Valley in 2014 and beyond.  To outline these projects, the Bureau will hold a presentation Friday, January 17th 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Convention Center, 10 North 8th Street in Downtown Yakima.

Among the topics to be covered:

  • Update on the state of the tourism industry nationally, state wide and locally
  • Brief review of Tourism 2020, the organization’s  strategic plan for tourism in the Yakima Valley
  • Review proposed legislation to fund new Washington state tourism efforts
  • Announce an important change for the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau

There is no charge to attend the session and the event is open to the public. To RSVP call 800- 221-0751 or contact laura@visityakima.com

Washington Wine Country Announces New Partnership With Hertz Car Rentals

tasteAndToteLogoHertz

Yakima, WA:  Washington Wine Country announces the launch of a new collaborative effort with Hertz Rent-A-Car to promote Washington Wine Country. Launching this month, Hertz will be the official rental car company for the “Taste and Tote” program, making it easier and more affordable for visitors to tour the Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley wine regions.

As part of this partnership, Hertz will waive car drop-off fees for visitors flying into Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla regional airports who wish to fly out of one of the other two airports. In addition, passengers that fly into those communities will receive a discount when using Hertz Corporate Discount Program (CDP) number 2016865.

“The Taste and Tote program has been a big success in the region and we believe the addition of Hertz as a partner will make the program more beneficial for our air travelers,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Existing features of the Taste and Tote program allow travelers on Alaska Airlines to check a case of wine free of charge within the U.S. plus customers can sample wines at nearly 200 participating wineries and pay no tasting fees when they show a current Alaska Airlines boarding pass from one of the three airports. Details on the Hertz offers and the Taste and Tote promotion can be found at www.tasteandtote.com or at http://www.visityakimavalley.org

About Washington Wine Country

Founded in 2003, Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism by fostering collaborative regional partnerships throughout the wine growing regions of the Yakima Valley, Tri Cities and Walla Walla in Eastern Washington, where more than 90 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown. For more information, visit www.winecountrywashington.org.

About The Hertz Corporation
The Hertz Corporation operates its car rental business through the Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly brands from approximately 10,400 corporate, licensee and franchisee locations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and New Zealand. Hertz is the largest worldwide airport general use car rental brand, operating from approximately 8,800 corporate and licensee locations in approximately 150 countries. Hertz is the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. and at 111 major airports in Europe. Dollar and Thrifty have approximately 1,580 corporate and franchisee locations in approximately 80 countries. Hertz is an inaugural member of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards Hall of Fame and was recently named, for the thirteenth time, by the magazine’s readers as the Best Car Rental Agency. Hertz was also voted the Best Overall Car Rental Company in Zagat’s 2013/14 U.S. Car Rental Survey, earning top honors in 10 additional categories, and the Company swept the global awards for Best Rewards Program and Best Overall Benefits from FlyerTalk.com. Product and service initiatives such as Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, NeverLost®, and unique cars and SUVs offered through the Company’s Adrenaline, Prestige and Green Traveler Collections, also set Hertz apart from the competition. Additionally, Hertz owns the vehicle leasing and fleet management leader Donlen Corporation and operates the Hertz 24/7 hourly car rental business. Hertz also operates one of the world’s largest equipment rental businesses, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, through approximately 350 branches in the United States, Canada, China, France, Spain and Saudi Arabia, as well as through its international licensees.

 

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from Seattle to Walla Walla Regional Airport, Yakima Air Terminal, and the Pasco/Tri-Cities.

Service to Portland is also available from Pasco/Tri-Cities.  Connections can be made beyond Alaska’s Seattle and Portland hubs to destinations in Alaska, the lower 48, Mexico and Canada. To purchase tickets, visit www.alaskaair.com or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR.

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Washington Tourism Alliance Meeting

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) and Regional Tourism Partners

 Invite you to participate in the WTA South Central Regional meeting for an informative discussion regarding the WTA 2014 legislative objectives, including the industry-funded, self-assessment model that will be sought in 2014.

November 6th 1:00 p.m.

Princess Theatre

1226 Meade Ave 

Prosser, WA 99350

The goal of WTA is to establish a statewide industry funded marketing program. As a member of the tourism industry your participation in this discussion is critical to our success, so please plan to join us!

Please RSVP to Stephanie Gangle

stephanie@visityakima.com

800-221-0751

Background:

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6 established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission to advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well-being of the Washington Tourism Industry.

The WTA was created in February 2011 following the announcement of the closure of the Washington State Tourism office by the end of the 2009-2011 biennium. The WTA immediately set forth to protect and preserve a number of ongoing state tourism programs and valuable marketing assets of great importance to the industry. In addition, the WTA began to create a long-term strategy for funding, development and marketing of a new, industry driven state destination tourism program.

Visitors Bureau Builds Tourism for Yakima Valley

As summer winds down and fall approaches, we want to share recent successes of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau in our efforts to build tourism for Yakima and the Yakima Valley.

August was a hugely successful month for media coverage resulting from our efforts! Notable coverage included articles in Lonely Planet online, Portland Magazine’s fall story, Seattle Time’s Pacific Northwest Magazine, Crave Local.com, 425 Magazine and others. In total the exposure generated $52,000 in advertising value and reached 20.5 million readers.

The Sports Commission finished the annual Hot Shots 3 on 3 Tourney in Downtown Yakima. We had a tourney record of 497 teams, an increase of 8.5% from 2012 and the sixth straight year the team numbers have grown. An estimated 12,000 people were downtown for the event.

Now the Sports Commission turns to fall events. September 13 and 14th we host the SunDome Volleyball Festival with more than 80 teams and close to 1,000 players from all over Washington and Oregon.

Following that we stage the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race October 5th. To date we have more than 860 registered (last year there were 878 total racers). This year we are partnering with the Allied Art’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival happening that day to make Yakima a weekend destination.