We Vote for the Golden Coast

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

As Californians took to the polls yesterday, there’s something we all can agree on, that tourism should have everyone’s vote. As attention turns to November and beyond, the travel and tourism industry continues to be shining bright for the Golden State. This week also marks the 30th annual CalTravel Summit which features panel discussions and […]

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California Travel and Tourism – We are open for business!

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

The outlook for the tourism industry is bright and will shine even brighter as visitor spending continues to boom. Thanks to a recent executive order by the Obama Administration, California is expected to realize $140 billion of the estimated $850 billion in additional revenue that traveler spending will bring to the U.S. through the new […]

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The One Hundred Billion Dollar Milestone

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

One hundred billion dollars – that’s what the travel and tourism industry means to California. And that’s a number for the record books. For the first time ever, travel spending will eclipse the $100 billion mark in 2011, according to projections by Tourism Economics. Visit California’s efforts to market California as the premier destination in […]

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Travel Brings Billions of Dollars into State Economies

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

If airports are California’s
gateways, then hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns are homes to travelers.
Whether people are visiting a place they’ve been to before, in town for
business or a conference, or exploring an area for the first time, those
friendly faces at the front desk, housekeeping and the concierge table are
ambassadors for a region.

In my roles with
the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) and the California Travel and
Tourism Commission (CTTC), I’ve seen the sizeable return on investment for
hospitality, travel and tourism spending. The economic engine fueled by a state
or region’s travel and tourism budget should not be overlooked. In fact, the
U.S. travel and tourism industry must be treated as the jewel it truly is.

Travel and
tourism are crucial to the success of a state like California. We are the
number one travel destination in the country, but also a state fighting off
enormous financial burdens. Travel and tourism in California annually inject
$95.1 billion in travel spending into the economy, directly supporting 873,000
jobs and generating $6.1 billion in direct state and local tax revenues.

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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.

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International Tourism Boosting Recovery

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

Although the state travel
industry has shown notable gains in 2010, we’re not out of the woods yet.
True, the number of passengers flying through California’s top 10
airports is up 5 percent in 2010, and the number of hotel rooms sold through
July increased 7.5 percent over last year, but we can’t afford to getcomplacent about sustained economic recovery.

To
mitigate future economic
downturns and thrive, it’s important we think of investments over
thelong haul. For the California travel industry, we’ve been
diversifying
our tourism marketing efforts as a long-term investment, striking a
balancebetween investments in our high-return domestic markets and
lucrative
international markets, whose travelers tend to stay longer, spend more
and
represent the highest growth potential long-term.

Recent
statistics prove this strategy is paying off. Although many destinations have
cut back on marketing international travel, leaner and meaner approaches have
enabled California to stay in the game globally. This has been critical, as a
rebound in international arrivals this year is expected to outpace the domestic
visitor rebound.

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Historic Travel Promotion Act to Help Boost Economy

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

After many months of getting Washington to understand the value and vulnerability of the travel industry in today’s struggling economy, I am elated that the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act passed in the Senate and was just signed by the President.

As chair of the U.S. Travel Association, which led the industry charge to pass this critical bill, I want to applaud the President and Senate for taking this major step toward strengthening the American economy. This new law, which we anticipate will be signed this week by President Obama, creates a multi-million-dollar public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination and better clarify U.S. security and entry policies to potential foreign travelers.

According to independent analysis by Oxford Economics, the program could attract 1.6 million additional visitors from other countries and create more than $4 billion in consumer spending annually, as well as generate $321 million in new federal tax revenue each year. As mentioned in previous posts, this landmark legislation was sorely needed, as America’s travel industry was the only major country without a national tourism promotion budget. Not keeping pace with global competitors cost us 68 million visitors to the U.S. and more than $500 billion in total spending over the last decade.

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Meetings Mean Business in California

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

Although misinformed anti-corporate travel rhetoric is starting to subside in Washington, the media is still bent on keeping the controversy alive. Months of damaging negative press – often inaccurate – continue to haunt the meetings segment of the hospitality industry, which employs 2.4 million Americans and generates $240 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue.

A great example of this is a local CBS affiliate’s implication that Caltrans employees lived it up on state funding at a luxury Palm Springs resort, which was hosting the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials convention Oct. 22-26. The report asserts that the trip violated non-essential travel banned by the State, but buries the fact that the trip was approved as an exception because it has been proven that these types of conferences not only foster collaboration, idea-sharing and generation, but provides an opportunity for California transportation officials to network with federal transportation officials and open up millions in federal monies for California road projects.

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Going Green Key to Making Green

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

One thing was clear recently at the California Travel & Tourism Commission’s (CTTC) first-ever California Sustainable Tourism Summit – going green is key to the travel industry’s economic future.

An astounding 170 stakeholders – more than double the anticipated participation – flocked to Asilomar near Monterey to discuss the future of sustainable tourism in the Golden State. Representatives from destination marketing organizations (DMOs), parks, wineries, transportation companies, restaurants, accommodations, media outlets, conservation groups, universities and local governments came to share best practices and learn more about how we can all ensure that tourism maintains its economic vitality while protecting the environment and community for future generations.

In California, sustainability is integral to the tourism landscape, attracting a fast-growing niche of eco-savvy travelers who are looking for green travel products and services – and are willing to pay more for them.

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New National Study Shows Importance of Cultural and Heritage Travel to U.S. Economy (and California)

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

A new study, the first of its kind, confirms that cultural
and heritage tourism is huge – and bigger than many of us thought in terms of
economic impact. I can tell you as Chair of the U.S. Travel Association that this
is great news for just about every destination in the U.S., as all of us have products
that will appeal to this market. 

Especially noteworthy is that this group is affluent and travels more and
further as a whole- which means they are less impacted by the slow economy than
other types of travelers. 

The study, conducted by Mandala
Research for the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism (USCHT) Marketing Council,
in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce,
shows that 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers (118.3 million adults)
participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, spending an
average of $994 per trip and contributing to more than $192 billion annually to
the U.S. economy.  

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