After mentioning on Friday that someone should ask Visit California for details of their partnership with Michelin, I sent an email to them myself. Below are responses from Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. Price tag in #5.
1) When did discussions on creating this partnership begin?
Talks with Michelin have been underway for more than a year.
2) Who initiated the talks? Did Michelin first reach out to Visit CA, or vice versa?
The effort to expand Michelin’s presence on the West Coast started with Visit Sacramento. As the discussion grew to encompass the entire state, Visit Sacramento brought Visit California to the table.
3) How were the areas of coverage decided?
Michelin selects the regions and restaurants to assess.
4) What are the terms of the partnership?
The partnership allows Michelin to underwrite hard costs of expanding the guide to cover the whole state. California’s tourism industry benefits from the global badge of credibility that comes with the Michelin Guide. Visit California research shows that “foodies” are among the highest-spending travelers. Having a statewide Michelin Guide means more of these valuable travelers will be inspired to visit California.
5) Does any part of the partnership involve payment from Visit CA to Michelin? If so, how much?
Visit California is investing $600,000 as part of its ongoing culinary program to underwrite the hard costs of expanding the presence of Michelin inspectors throughout the state.
6) Were there any in-kind contributions made from Visit CA to Michelin? If so, what?
Michelin and Visit California are working together on promoting the new guide.
7) Was an estimated total cost for creating the guide ever discussed? If so, what were the estimates?
8) Was an estimated economic impact for the guide in CA ever discussed? If so, what were the estimates?
9) Does any member of Visit CA have a specific role in the creation of the guide (inspector, editor, etc.)? If so, what are their roles?
Michelin will produce the guide independently, applying the same care and standards it always has. Visit California will help promote the guide when it is released in early June. It has had no say in the locations Michelin chooses to assess and will have no role in the creation of the guide.
And here’s an additional note from Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guides:
The No. 1 consideration before we go to any market is the importance of a thriving culinary scene. There are very few major cities in the world that do not include a tourist or convention board. The involvement of tourism boards, or similar entities, in publishing a new Guide does not bear any influence whatsoever regarding the inspectors’ judgments for the restaurants in the selection, or the star awards. The inspectors are absolutely independent. The approach is similar to the so-called “separation of church and state” that divides editorial from advertising in U.S. newspapers and journalism. Ultimately, Michelin publishes the Guide as a trusted companion for our readers, as it has been since the turn of the last century.