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Bike tourism conference kicks off in San Diego

Published November 4, 2015
Some attendees delayed due to canceled or diverted flights.

SAN DIEGO (BRAIN) — The Bicycle Tour Network kicked off its 26th annual conference Wednesday afternoon, returning to the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego. The event brings together the bicycle and tourism industries for four days of networking and sharing of best practices.

However, several attendees who flew into the San Diego International Airport were delayed Wednesday afternoon as flights were canceled or diverted due to a standoff with a gunman at an apartment complex under the airport’s approach path. The Federal Aviation Administration halted incoming flights for several hours Wednesday afternoon as a precaution, and conference organizers expected many attendees to arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday morning.

Last year’s event drew nearly 250 attendees for lectures, interactive sessions, group discussions and panels on how to successfully run and promote bicycle events and tourism.

The conference also has a vendor expo, giving companies the chance to meet ride directors and tourism companies.

“When the conference was first held, the purpose was to bring together just multi-day bicycle tour event directors to share knowledge and help others who had an interest in starting events,” said T.J. Juskiewicz, BTN president and RAGBRAI director. “That focus remains today, but the Bicycle Tour Network has broadened the scope to include single-day and weekend recreational bicycle events and festivals, tour operators and travel and tourism officials that highlight their cycling opportunities.”

Wednesday’s schedule included afternoon discussions about cycling events and bike tourism and a dockside evening reception and cruise along the San Diego harbor on the William D. Evans Sternwheeler Boat. 

Tapped to speak at the conference is Chris Speyer, Accell North America’s chief executive officer, and Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes, who will present the keynote Thursday morning on “Fun for Everyone — Growing Cycling in North America.”

PeopleForBikes is the presenting sponsor of the conference. Also supporting the event are Primal, Interbike and Adventure Cycling.

On Friday, IMBA’s Mike Van Abel will lead a breakout session on mountain bike tourism. And a panel made up of retailers and suppliers including Mike Gann of Niner Bikes will lead a mid-day breakout session on the endurance adventure category.

Among the topics to be tackled this year are the economic impact of bike tourism; social marketing; success stories in parks and on public lands; developing partnerships among cities, bike tour operators and bike events; bike tourism and local food and culture; and the future of e-bike tours and tourism. 

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