As California prepares to fully reopen, our travel and tourism industry is encouraging people to revisit local businesses and parks. Solano County is a prime destination for both tourists and residents. It’s nestled between San Francisco and Sacramento, and neighbors the beautiful and aromatic wine region of Napa and Sonoma Valley. The wineries trickle into the hills of Suisun and Fairfield. We have noteworthy restaurants, craft breweries, farms, shopping, and lodging. Nevertheless, these industries have been impacted by the pandemic’s shutdown.
In hopes of revitalization, our local Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are using 2021 to revive the community and reconnect with America. “We’re working on a recovery strategy,” said Anand Patel, CEO of Visit Fairfield. “We’re reopening the floodgates slowly so we’re prepared for the potential influx. We want to make sure we’re mindful from a visitors standpoint as well.” Patel and his team at Visit Fairfield are conscious about what tourists want to explore, knowing that experiences are not one size fits all.
Visit Fairfield has begun its 2021 media series, in which journalists from different outlets come to Fairfield and receive a catered journey through the area. “When a journalist comes one at a time, it allows us to customize the experience to what their specialty is… If they’re into beer, we’ll take them to Heretic Brewing. If they’re interested in olive oil, Il Fiorello does a great job of explaining the growing and producing process.” Patel goes on to say that for magazines such as National Geographic, he’ll take the writer kayaking through Suisun or rent bikes and cycle across the wine region.
Recently, the organization partnered with Visit California, Jelly Belly, and the City of Fairfield to open a California Welcome Center located at the Jelly Belly factory. Inside, Welcome Center Manager Anthony Taylor asks visitors what they are interested in. He makes recommendations to better their time in Solano. The Welcome Center is having its open house from May 3rd through May 7th, in observation of National Travel and Tourism Week.
Additionally, Visit Fairfield is focusing its social media efforts on TikTok. “TikTok has been an inspirational form from a travel perspective. The beauty of TikTok is your brand can step away from its identity and still have your message across by using trends.” Patel praised United Airline’s use of TikTok. TikTok is the rising social media app amongst Gen-Z and Millennials. It’s known for popularizing songs, sounds, and memes using video. You can follow Visit Fairfield on TikTok at @visitfairfieldca.
The other DMO in the area, Visit Vacaville, is repositioning itself towards Community Shared Values. “We want to make sure that our residents are more engaged in tourism and why it benefits them. So, we’re trying to have a greater focus on communicating to our residents,” said Melyssa Laughlin, the organization’s President/ CEO. Visit Vacaville launched its new website, www.visitvacaville.com, and is redesigning the annual Visitor Guide.
A new project Laughlin is excited about is the Vacaville Savings Pass. The pass will be similar to a digital coupon book and will update monthly. “It will get people moving around again, so it will support our residents and retail.” Campaigns toward the end of the year include a Taco Trail, a Beer Trail, and an Ag & Art Trail. The trails introduce tourists to multiple businesses within a certain trade at once.
Both Visit Fairfield and Visit Vacaville agree that businesses in the area have become more resilient since the shutdown and reopening measures. “Businesses have gotten creative in how they do business, which will make them stronger in the long run. For example, the outdoor dining programs — I hope those stick around,” adds Laughlin.
Currently, Solano County is in the red tier under California’s color-coded plan for safely reopening the economy. Hotels can open with modifications. Restaurants can open with 25% occupancy. Wineries, breweries, and bars are still limited to outdoor-only seating. Retail can open with 50% max capacity.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced in early April that the state can do away with the colored tiers and fully reopen on June 15th as long as vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be immunized and hospitalization rates are stable and low.