The Orange County Tourism Association's (OCVA) 9th Annual Tourism Conference was held on May 10 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove. The conference, held in conjunction with National Tourism Week, recognizes the role travel and tourism plays in the local, regional, and national economies.

This year's conference theme, "OC - The Heart of California Tourism" featured Caroline Beteta, President and CEO, Visit California; a panel presentation and discussion on The Impact of Expansion and Hotel Growth in The OC Over the Next Five Years by Bruce Baltin, Managing Director CBRE Hotels and Adam Sacks, President and Founder Tourism Economics and moderated by Ed Fuller, President/CEO Orange County Visitors Association; and keynote speaker Samantha Brown, world traveler and television host.

Tourism and hospitality industry leaders representing Destination Irvine, were in attendance, including Director of Tourism Marketing Wendy Haase, Director of Sales Demea Metcalf, and Sales Manager Dave Lucey, along with Irvine hoteliers, Hector Santa Cruz, General Manager, Residence Inn - Irvine Airport; Brett Ambrose, General Manager, Hyatt House; Kym Meyers, General Manager, DoubleTree Irvine Spectrum; and Alane Millar, Director of Sales, SpringHill Suites.

"The conference provides valuable insight into the state of the tourism industry both locally and statewide," said Haase. "That insight lends direction for future tourism initiatives and best practices that showcase Irvine and Orange County as destinations."

The OCVA Mission Statement

The Orange County Visitors Association represents The OC as one of the world's premier travel destinations by providing brand marketing stewardship and information dissemination, collective industry advocacy, and educational opportunities. Destination Irvine along with fellow Orange County Destination Marketing Organizations and tourism partners, collaboratively advocate and market Orange County. Haase serves on the OCVA board of directors and on the organization's marketing committee.

For more information about Destination Irvine, visit destinationirvine.com and for the Orange County Visitors Association, visit visittheoc.com.

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About Destination Irvine

Under the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit 501(c)6, Destination Irvine, funded by a self-imposed assessment tax through a Hotel Improvement District (H.I.D.), positions Irvine as a destination for visitors, meetings and groups. Destination Irvine through direct sales efforts including database marketing, lead generation, trade show participation, and familiarization tours, sells the destination. In addition, Destination Irvine promotes Irvine through marketing, advertising and public relations efforts.

Mission Statement

As the official Destination Marketing Organization for Irvine, the mission of Destination Irvine is to partner with the tourism and hospitality industry to brand and promote Irvine as a preferred overnight destination in Southern California for groups, sports events, leisure visitors and business travelers. Destination Irvine's goals are designed to enhance the economy of the city of Irvine through sustained growth in tourism spending, resulting in an increase in economic impact.

About the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce

One of the most influential Chambers in Orange County, the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 800 businesses in the area. The Chamber serves as a catalyst for local economic growth by promoting the city as a dynamic business and tourism destination, providing valuable training and networking opportunities, and advocating for the interests of the business community with federal, state and local officials. Our mission is to promote an economic climate that strengthens the competitiveness of local businesses while offering members a wide range of benefits, services, programs, and information.