Tourists have interest to connect with Calif. farmers & ranchers: Karen Ross

Tourists have interest to connect with Calif. farmers & ranchers: Karen Ross

The variety of foods produced in California generate interest around the world, and many tourists visit the state's farms, dairies and ranches to meet farmers and know how foods are produced, Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross said.

Promoting California agritourism at Fresno State University, Ross said an increasing numbers of tourists were planning at least part of their tours around food and drinks. She said people loved to visit the state's farmers markets, food festivals, and stay at bed-&-breakfast inns on farms.

Speaking on the topic, she said, "There's an interest to connect with farmers and ranchers. Many come for a California food and agriculture experience and want to replicate it at home . No other group can do what we do when we host a taste-of-California [event]"

Ross visited Fresno to help announce an affiliation between California Grown Visit California to promote agritourism in the Golden State. California Grown promotes agriculture, while Visit California is a 20-year-old tourism-marketing organization that promotes tourism in the state.

Ross pointed out that tourism generated $112 billion in spending in the state during 2013, of more than $28 million was spent by tourists on food, wine and other beverages.

Tulare County alone attracted more than $389.1 million from tourists in 2008, but annual tourism spending slipped in wake of recession. Tourism spending rebounded in 2012, when tourists spent $407.6 million.

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