TURLOCK — A gathering in Turlock on Wednesday will explore how to draw tourists to farms, rivers and other San Joaquin Valley attractions.
Business and community leaders will exchange ideas at the first-ever San Joaquin River Valley Travel and Tourism Economic Summit.
The event, free to the first 150 people who register, will feature speakers from the tourism sector, agriculture, river restoration and other fields.
It is sponsored by the Great Valley Center, based in Modesto, with the help of several partners.
The organizers cited a study estimating that travelers spent about $2.6 billion in the five counties from San Joaquin to Fresno in 2010. This created about 27,000 jobs and $167 million in tax revenue.
The spending is small compared with the $100 billion-plus for all of California each year. The state draws hordes of people to places such as San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Disneyland and Monterey.
The prospects for the valley include visits to farms and processing plants, recreation on rivers and reservoirs, special events such as rodeos and car shows, and attractions aimed at Amtrak riders.
The speakers will include:
Denise Skidmore, marketing director at Hilmar Cheese Co.
Penny Leff, agritourism coordinator at the University of California at Davis
Nancy Beckman, executive director of the Lodi Conference and Visitors Bureau
Cindy Lashbrook, owner of Riverdance Farms along the Merced River
Wes Rhea, executive director of the Stockton Convention and Visitors Bureau
Dan Leavitt, special projects coordinator for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission
Dave Koehler, coordinator of the San Joaquin River Partnership
Chris Murphy, a Modesto businessman and event promoter
Layla Forstedt, executive director of the Fresno Convention and Visitors Bureau
Glen Roberts of the U.S. Department of Commerce
Karin Fish, vice president for industry relations and operations at Visit California
Dave Hosley, executive director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced
Richard Jantz, retired deputy chief executive officer for Stanislaus County
When: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday
Where: California State University, Stanislaus, Event Center; parking is in Lot 8 in the southeast part of the Turlock campus
Cost: Free to the first 150 people who register, $25 for others. Lunch is included. Advance registration is required.
More information: www.greatvalley.org/work/sjriversummit or (209) 483-6991