FAIRFIELD, Calif. — With the closure of Budweiser’s tour center, a hallmark of Fairfield’s tourism has come to an end.
While the tour center is closed, the factory itself is not. There are no other impacts on their other brewery operations or the workforce.
“Unfortunately, we made the decision to discontinue our tour center operations,” said Samantha Roth, Director of Corporate Communications for Anheuser-Busch in an email response to ABC10. “This will allow us to focus resources on additional community activities and programs. We are always focused on simplifying and streamlining our business, and focusing our resources to invest in growth.”
Roth added that the company will not be conducting interviews regarding the tour closure at this time but noted that they are committed to brewing beer in Fairfield, supporting local jobs and communities in the area.
In a follow-up response to ABC10, Roth confirmed that the tasting room will no longer be available to the public. However, the brewery will still have their annual car show and continue to support "Families Helping Families," an organization run by the local Fairfield brewery employees.
Ultimately, the tour center’s closure was a business decision.
“The reality is that our tour center at the Fairfield brewery had not been financially viable for some time, and so tours have ceased to continue [as of December 22, 2018],” Roth said in an email.
About five years ago, the company had done a large expansion of their gift shop and tasting room. They moved it from the second floor to the first floor and knocked down a number of offices and walls to make the gift shop and tasting room guests have been recently familiar with, according to Anand Patel, CEO/President of the Fairfield Conference & Visitor's Bureau.
He added that the tours typically attracted locals, friends and families, and day trips from out of town visitors. Patel noted that one of his first sales for the factory tour was a 25-person birthday party for a 70-year old woman, who loved Budweiser.
While the loss of those tours is a setback for the tourism bureau, they’re confident that Fairfield tourism will remain strong. He added that they are actually coming off of one their strongest years ever for tourism.
“Despite the setback of losing a major internationally known figure as far as Budweiser [tours] goes, we’ve got some great growth on the wine side that will add to that,” Patel said. “I think that as wine becomes increasingly popular…, our region in proximity to Napa, I think, has gained a lot more notoriety and fame.”
After hearing about the tours ending, the tourism bureau “literally had to stop the presses” as Patel put it; thousands of magazine orders with information on Budweiser tours had just been sent to the printer.
“It wasn’t just one listing," Patel said. "We get changes to our visitor guide all the time, but, being that Budweiser was such a significant part of the community and tourism, they were referenced several dozen times.”
Patel and the bureau were able to make the adjustments in time, and all their materials, including their website, have been updated. Patel noted that the other factories were made aware of the tour closure as well.
“Some of the folks hadn’t even learned of Budweiser’s [gift shop and tour] closure yet,” Patel said.
The other factories and tourism destination would often help direct tourists to other destinations. Since those tours are gone, the bureau didn’t want visitors redirected to a facility that no longer carried the tour.
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