INTERNATIONAL NEWS: California looks to grow UK business

California Tourism is to target the UK corporate and incentive market more proactively, in an attempt to grow its share of international conference business.

Marketing activity will include fam trips, online elements and attending trade shows. Representation company McCluskey & Associates UK account director Andy Woodward said while California gets a fair slice of the US' sizeable proportion of international conferences, the destination had not yet received a high level of exposure within the UK C&I industry.

"We're trying to expand our visibility in the UK market and, due to a boost in promotional funding, we are now able to promote the destination more fully, he said. "I think there is a misconception that California is too far away. It's only 12 hours, not a lot further than Florida, and the destination is so diverse with mountains and lakes and a large number of convention facilities."

One of California Tourism's first initiatives has been to contract in the technology from venuedirectory.com, the online search and management system for meeting planners, to launch the website California4meetings.com.

A further initiative has been to attend trade shows such as Confex and fam trips are planned for later in the year.

Recent developments in California include the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, which now offers a total of 19,000 sq m of meeting space.

"We are actively pushing British Airways' direct flights from Gatwick to San Diego, added San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau director of travel industry sales Jackie Williams.

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