Travel and Tourism is Keeping California Out of the Red

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

Travel is big
business for California and leading the recovery post-recession. It is helping
to jumpstart the economy and plays a vital role in our economic health.

How vital?

The industry
provides billions in taxes and nearly a million jobs to the state. While
California’s Real GDP grew at a relatively modest 1.8 percent in 2010, travel
spending (adjusted for inflation) grew at more than twice that rate, up 4.4
percent.

Last year, California tourism generated $95.1 billion in
travel-related spending and $6.1 billion in direct state and local tax
revenues. Travel in California means jobs – employing 873,000 people with
earnings of $29.9 billion.

Simply put: travel matters.  It matters with job creation, productivity and
regional economic expansion.

Though many of us may not see tourists in our
neighborhoods day-to-day, it is this very revenue that helps pave our city’s
streets, keep police and fire departments serving responding to our calls and support
children’s services.

Moreover, consider
the impact thousands of leisure and business travelers create on hoteliers,
restaurateurs, retailers, museums, clothing stores and countless other
businesses.

Just looking at those significant numbers, it is clear the travel and
tourism industry is helping to keep California out of the red.

California’s scenery, climate, people, cultural
diversity, history, wildlife, landscape, highways and mystique are intrinsic
qualities of the state and make it the number one travel destination in the
United States. Even the royal
newlyweds know it – they chose to come to California and visited Los Angeles during
their first official overseas visit as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

People come to California because of what the state
represents and to experience the California lifestyle. The California
experience was the state’s top international export in 2010, generating $17
billion in revenue from foreign visitors. During this time period international
tourism remarkably accounted for more revenue than the top four export
categories (aircraft, non-industrial diamonds, computer parts and voice/image
and data equipment) combined.

People from all over the world come to California to experience its
wonders from the redwoods in northern California to the sunny beaches of the
south.

Tourism is arguably California’s top commodity, every bit as valuable as
our state’s agriculture products.  Californians
value and protect its innovative industries such as software development,
technology and biotech. It is time that travel and tourism is valued and
acknowledged as the significant economic driver that it is. In a climate where many
industries are being subsidized or floundering and laying off employees, the
travel industry brings tourism dollars to our state’s economy with a minimal
impact on the general fund. 

Tourism is resilient and weathers "down" economies better
than most industries. It is a service-related industry which means work can
only be done by employees and the work cannot be outsourced to other states or
countries. In fact, tourism spending in the state has more of a direct impact
on jobs than in most other industries.

Tourism is a vital part of our economic health. Let’s
think about the value of travel in your everyday lives. And, in the meantime,
pack a suitcase and take a trip. Think of it as your personal contribution to
economic recovery.

Caroline Beteta is
President and CEO of the California Travel & Tourism Commission (CTTC), a
non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing
programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep
California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. For more information,
please visit
http:/www.visitcalifornia.com.

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