Tourists to the Tri-Valley spent more in 2018 than they did the previous year; 51 tour operators in China selling the Tri-Valley produced just under 7,300 room nights and generated about $2.38 million in media coverage.

That was just some of the good news shared by Visit Tri-Valley during their annual luncheon, this year themed "Up, Up and Away,” held Sept. 18 at the Shannon Community Center in Dublin. Visit Tri-Valley is a destination-marketing organization working to raise awareness of the region and increase overnight tourism to maximize economic impact.

“If there’s one message I want to pass along, it’s that the hospitality industry has a huge economic benefit for everybody, every region, every community and every political jurisdiction,” said keynote speaker Joe D’Alessandro, president of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have to work together, and continue to spread the message about Northern California and the Bay Area being a fantastic place to visit. Then we will benefit from the job creation, the spending and the tax revenue that hospitality creates.”

The luncheon was attended by more than 200 local business people, residents and dignitaries, including five mayors – John Marchand of Livermore, Jerry Thorne of Pleasanton, David Haubert of Dublin, and past and present Danville mayors Newell Arnerich and Robert Storer — who starred in this year’s uproarious video presentation of Visit Tri-Valley’s annual report.

“We have had an absolutely amazing, wonderful year with our incredible team at Visit Tri-Valley,” said Robin Fahr, director of marketing and communications. “On our website, we are now attracting more than a quarter million visitors a year, and the new number one search phrase on our site is ‘dog friendliness.’”

For outdoorsy, recreation-loving Tri-Valley visitors, the annual report’s statistics likely come as no surprise: in 2018, the number of visitors reached 1.53 million; tax receipts totaled more than $74 million, while annual travel spending increased by 4% to $680 million; and hotel occupancy – the Holy Grail of tourism prosperity – hovered at 74%.

Correlating the valley’s vitality with that of San Francisco, D’Alessandro said, “We saw our tenth year in a row of record-breaking numbers. We have the highest hotel occupancy in the nation, and the highest revenue per available room in the nation. For the first time ever, we passed New York.”

Yet despite the optimistic report, D’Alessandro noted that the economy may be slowing. “We don’t see a huge downturn right now, but we are starting to see a little softness through the whole state, and similar things on the East Coast and all over the country. It’s the way the economy generally is performing globally,” he said.

For hospitality industries, the international market is key. In San Francisco, 61% of all visitor spending comes from international tourists.

“Our top markets are: Number one, China, and number two, the UK. Then it jumps back and forth between Europe and Asia – Germany and South Korea, or Japan and France,” D’Alessandro said. “The market we’re seeing the biggest growth in is India. We think India will actually surpass China in less than five or six years. Strategically, you have to look at markets collectively so that you’re focusing on both traditional and growth markets.”

Asked how Visit Tri-Valley can best work with his organization, D’Alessandro emphasized the importance of working as a unit.

“I’m a firm believer in regional cooperation,” he said. “We have to get involved with each other’s promotional activities and extend the range of our dollars to make them work harder. We can only do that collectively. Visitors don’t see our borders. The international market especially doesn’t see the geographic boundaries as limitations. They love to experience all of America, and collectively, if we focus on this together, we can all win.”

The annual luncheon also provides an opportunity for Visit Tri-Valley to recognize local partners in the hospitality industry. This year’s Spirit of Hospitality award was given to Kevin Goebel, general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasanton at the Club. The Partner of the Year award was given to Pedego Electric Bikes/Umigo Indoor Kart Racing in Livermore.

To learn more, or watch the “Up, Up and Away” video, go to visittrivalley.com.