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Outlook Forum Disney
Magic comes alive at 10th anniversary of Outlook Forum

By Angie Pappas
Posted 2 days ago

When Visit California held its first Outlook Forum in 2008, the event was little more than a planning meeting to gather the organization's international offices under one roof. Ten years later, the international teams were still there — they just happened to be joined by more than 600 of their closest friends.

The sold-out 2018 Outlook Forum officially marked ten years serving as the California travel and tourism industry's flagship conference. To mark the occasion, it was only fitting for the conference to come to life in "The Happiest Place on Earth" in Anaheim — a destination has remained one of the defining pillars of the state's tourism identity for nearly two-thirds of a century.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa exceeded even the loftiest expectations as the venue for the milestone occasion. From Feb. 13-16, the conference center was transformed into the epicenter of California tourism – even down to the foyer's replica California Welcome Center booth.

The core of the conference, as always, was the content. This year, Outlook Forum packed three dozen speakers and panelists into two days of immersive, interactive sessions. Highlights included:

  • U.S. Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow, Google's Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing Gopi Kallayil, and Innovation Protocol Managing Director Sasha Strauss took the stage as part of back-to-back-to-back keynotes that touched on the intersections of travel and technology, the national tourism landscape, and the next generation's role in saving the world. Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta joined the trio afterwards onstage for a live Outlook All-Star Q&A.
  • Outlook Forum's most popular session to date took attendees around the world to Visit California's 13 international offices in just under an hour. Managing directors from each market – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Scandinavia, South Korea and the United Kingdom – took the stage for rapid-fire, three-minute presentations. Afterwards, attendees were able to meet face-to-face with each country and Visit California's agency partners for networking.
  • Day Two kicked off with one of the biggest moments of the conference with the Visit California keynote, Finding True North: Travel's Decade of Change. Beteta shared insights from the past 10 years of Outlook Forum and explored the changes – and similarities – between the California brand, the state travel and tourism industry, and the Visit California program as the organization prepares for even greater goals in 2018 and beyond.
  • Beteta joined the presidents and CEOs from California's biggest gateway DMOs – Jay Burress (Visit Anaheim), Joe D'Alessandro (San Francisco Travel Association), Joe Terzi (San Diego Tourism Authority) and Ernest Wooden, Jr. (Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board) – for a freewheeling discussion on the biggest issues facing their destinations. Topics included international sentiment, "All Dreams Welcome" localization efforts, crisis response and the future role of DMOs in shaping tourism product and infrastructure development. The panel fielded questions from the audience, culminating in each laying out his vision for the future of travel in California.
  • The Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier joined AEG's Chief Strategic Officer Steven Cohen for a deep dive into the role that entertainment experiences play in tourism marketing.

The whirlwind week was capped off by the return of the Poppy Awards at City National Grove of Anaheim. California Dream Eater Chase Ramsey hosted the event and made his entrance in style — with a live rendition of his Anaheim Packing House song to the backing music of a live band.

Following the opening number, Beteta and the Visit California Commission Officers – Chair Sima Patel, Vice Chair of Marketing James Bermingham, Vice Chair of Operations Noreen Martin and Chief Fiscal Officer Gary Buffo – awarded nine campaigns with Poppy honors as the audience roared its support and approval. Filmmaker and cinematography pioneer Louis Schwartzberg was awarded the honorary California Dreamer Award before he, Ramsey and Beteta closed the evening with a signature "napkin drop."

Other unforgettable moments included:

  • A Whole New World. Wednesday evening's event at Disney California Adventure Park concluded with a stunning customized World of Color performance, which ended with the Visit California logo gleaming in the water against a night sky lit up by the iconic Micky Mouse ferris wheel.
  • Listen With Your Heart. Six packed breakout sessions allowed attendees to choose their own path to kick off and conclude conference programming. From the standing-room-only California Global Ready: India seminar and networking roundtables on Wednesday, to the trio of content-, trade- and influencer-focused breakouts Thursday afternoon, every session was filled to capacity as attendees explored the topics that interested them most in intimate, engaging environments.
  • To Infinity and Beyond. Commissioner Wooden joined the Terranea Resort's SVP of Sales and Marketing Agnelo Fernandes for the surprise announcement of the 2019 Outlook Forum destination. Next year, Outlook returns to the coastline at the jaw-dropping Terranea Resort in Los Angeles.

2018 Outlook Forum went down as one for the ages and set the stage for another decade of discovery in the years to come. For more Outlook highlights, check out the photo gallery, tune in to the official 2018 Outlook Forum playlist on Spotify, and watch the highlights video.

Farming agriculture culinary
California cultivates a decade of farm-to-table flavors

By Erin DeMarois
Posted 2 days ago

This year marks a decade of momentum for the farm-to-table movement in the United States – though some might say farm-to-table practices have been ongoing since California’s inception.

The modern-day movement can be traced back to the passage of the national Farm Act in 2008, which provided for expanded marketing efforts to promote locally sourced food and programs like farmers markets and community gardens. Six years later, California Governor Jerry Brown created the Office of Farm to Fork in 2014, a task force dedicated to creating food access for underserved communities and increasing the volume and standards of agricultural products available in retail food outlets.

"This farm-to-fork legislation expands access to fresh, local produce and will help make our communities healthier," Governor Brown pledged at the time.

This moment coined the term “farm-to-fork” as a synonym to “farm-to-table” – both illustrate the direct transfer of products from local farms into seasonal cuisine.

Now in 2018, California continues to harness the locavore spirit through politics, the food industry and ongoing support from communities both urban and rural. No longer is farm-to-table referred to as a “movement” – California’s hunger for locally-sourced food has manifested its own culture, proving it’s here to stay.

As a foundational part of any California destination’s identity, farm-to-table symbolizes strength in simplicity. For those who have witnessed the farm-to-table process firsthand, it is evident that sheer quality is the most impressive aspect of California products. Carefully curated olive oil and internationally renowned wines speak for themselves – the grit and purity of that which is harvested from the fertile state’s soil is unparalleled to any elaborate culinary configuration.

Each diverse region of California contributes its own specialty to the state’s bounty, whether it be Napa and Sonoma’s vineyards, Butte County’s almond orchards, Fallbrook's avocados or Gilroy's garlic. These are just a few of the distinct offerings in which Golden State communities take pride, and they represent only a fraction of California’s agricultural output.

According the the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Statistics Review, California is the largest agricultural producer and exporter in America, supplying more than 99 percent of most nuts, fruits and vegetables found in the nation. This same review shows that the value of California’s exports has grown more than 120 percent over the past 10 years, so while farm-to-table may be ingrained into local lifestyles within the state by now, it remains an appealing aspect of the state's culture for foreign and even domestic travelers. Essentially, some of the freshest produce in the world can be found in the state, which sparks interest in foodies who are eager to taste global goods in their native setting.

"It’s all about the freshness and the variety – when there’s snow on the ground in other parts of the country, we have strawberries just around the corner," says Visit Sacramento CEO Mike Testa.

California became a culinary destination when its passion for provisions spearheaded the concept of artistic and unforgettable dining experiences. In 1971, Chez Panisse restaurant emerged in Berkeley, trailblazing the way for future restauranteurs who adopted Chef Alice Waters’ mission statement that “the best tasting food is organically and locally grown, and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the land for future generations.”

Somewhere along the way, California elevated itself above the typical American fast-food environment as neighborhood bistros suddenly surpassed chains, with the exception of California’s beloved In-n-Out Burger (though the California-favorite company with a fiercely loyal customer base attributes its success to using the best-available ingredients).

"Sure, you can get a tomato on your burger in another state," Testa says. "But when a visitor tries a juicy heirloom that just left the farmer’s truck that morning? There’s nothing in the world like it."

It only makes sense that Sacramento, California’s capital, repositioned its label as the “City of Trees” to “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital." The region is known for its historical roots in livestock and agriculture, and its historical ties to the canning industry earned the city the affectionate nickname “Sacratomato.”

"When the Sacramento area was first declared America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital in 2013, the initiative was really driven by our region’s incredible chefs and farmers," Testa says. "Today, we’ve seen farm-to-fork grow to the point that corporations, universities, even media outlets are working to integrate fresh food and agriculture into their business."

Since 2012, Sacramento has hosted the free Farm-to-Fork Festival in front of the State Capitol, initially drawing locals and families and now expanding to crowds of nearly 65,000 coming from far and wide to learn about and savor noteworthy Northern California fare. The festival has become the “region’s biggest fresh food party,” according to Visit Sacramento.

This festival is one of many that have sprung up throughout the state, including the Mendocino Crab, Beer and Wine Festival; the Castroville Artichoke Festival; Sample the Sierra in Lake Tahoe; and the Chula Vista Lemon Festival. In addition to these edible celebrations and iconic farm-to-table restaurants in California, larger institutions are beginning to create relationships with local farmers as well.

Steven Gotham, the head chef at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, developed a garden exclusively to serve the sports complex’s acclaimed restaurant, Bourbon Steak. Michael Tuohy of the recently-opened Golden 1 Center in Sacramento ensures nearly all of the food in the arena is sourced nowhere further than 150 miles away.

Even airports are providing diners with fresh and local options to get a real taste of California: SFO continuously adds Bay Area eateries to its services and LAX boasts artisan coffee, signature microbrews, and California-style juice bars.

As farm-to-table reaches its ten-year anniversary, it is now more important than ever. Increasing emphasis on sustainability and a focus on health puts 2018 on the farm-to-table fast track, making the “movement” a tradition to come.

"It’s about looking at what you offer and seeing where farm-to-fork can fit in," Testa says. "Can you host a farmer’s market on your company’s campus? Can you support a regional restaurant for your holiday party? Even small changes can make a difference in expanding the reach of the effort."

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