Travelers Spent a Record $110 Billion in California in 2013

Skift Take

The rapid growth of Asia’s outbound travel market is driving California’s record tourism growth, but the destination is competing with more and more destinations now looking to woo the lucrative demographic.

— Samantha Shankman

More than 235 million people — visitors and residents alike — traveled within California in 2013, spending an all-time record of $109.6 billion, according to a new report released by Visit California, the nonprofit that helps develop the state’s travel and tourism marketing programs.

Visit California said last year’s travel-related spending generated $2.8 billion in local tax revenues and $4.3 billion in state tax revenues.

The report, compiled by Portland, Ore.-based Dean Runyan Associates and commissioned by Visit California, also noted that the state’s travel industry last year employed 965,800 people, the highest number since 1992, when employment data started being tallied.

“California tourism is on the rise, and that means new potential for creating jobs and increasing economic impact throughout the state,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, in a statement.

The report also breaks out travel-related tax revenue to individual counties in 2012.

Los Angeles led the list with $602 million in tax revenue, up from $563 million in 2011. San Francisco County was second at $429 million, up from $387 million in 2011.

Regionally, Sacramento County collected travel-related tax revenue of about $54 million in 2012, up from about $52 million in 2011. Others were: Placer County, $15.9 million; El Dorado County, $11.5 million; and Yolo County, $4.5 million.

The Northern California wine tasting destinations of Napa and Sonoma counties were nearly even in 2012 tax revenues related to travel spending: $35.2 million and $34.1 million, respectively.

While pleased with last year’s overall $110 billion in travel-related spending, Beteta said future growth “will depend on California remaining a top-of-mind travel destination,” especially globally.

In April, Visit California said it launched broadcast advertising for the first time in Mexico and China. Overall, it spends $50 million annually to market California to prospective travelers.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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