Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 445,000 14.8%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $786 million 16.8%
California Market Share (2014) 27.4% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 9.3 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) 34 2.1%
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) 11,942 16.0%
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 461,000 6.0%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 497,000 14.3%

Source: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, CIC Research, Tourism Economics, OAG

* Visitor volumes: The U.S. Department of Commerce started to count one-night visitors in 2014. This change inflated Yr/Yr visitation gains compared to previous years but delivers a more accurate picture of total visitation.

** Visitor spending: The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis made changes to their methodology in 2014 to include spending by students, temporary workers, and people traveling for reasons related to their health. Although this change increased total travelers, some Yr/Yr declines in spending per visitor have been seen which are more likely related to the gaining strength of the US dollar vs. foreign currencies in the 4th quarter of 2014.

Visitor Spending by Category 2013

  % spending $ Category Spending
Accommodations 23.6% $159 million
Entertainment/Recreation 16.6% $112 million
Food & Beverage 24.7% $166 million
Ground Transportation 6.4% $43 million
Shopping 18.5% $125 million
U.S. Air Transportation 6.6% $44 million
Other 3.7% $25 million
Total 100% $673 million

Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce; CIC Research, Inc.; U.S. BEA; Tourism Economics


International Markets

France has long been one of California’s leading international markets.

In 2014, 445,000 French visitors arrived in California, spending $786 million or an average of $1,765 per trip. California’s market share for the French market is 27.4 percent. In 2013, French visitors stayed an average of 9.3 days. Visitation from France to California is expected to grow by 14.3 percent through 2018.

Visit California has had a focused presence in this market since 2009, concentrating on travel trade training, relationship development strategies and top-tier press engagement. With the increase in direct flight capacity and ease of pan-Europe connectivity, airlines continue to demonstrate confidence in the market’s growth potential. According to Hall & Partners research, the French consumer to California is highly motivated to visit gateways cities, but shows a high interest in California’s deserts and outdoor adventure destinations.


For France, 2015 is expected to be a year of only modest economic recovery. Growth, while positive, was less than hoped for or expected. However expectations in 2015 are shifting positively thanks to the combined effect of lower global oil prices, the depreciation of the Euro and monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank. After 0.4 percent in 2014, growth should reach 0.9 percent on average in 2015 and 1.5 percent in 2016. Additionally, both consumer confidence and consumer spending are forecasted to rise for 2016-2020, which will limit the prospect of deflation. Progress remains fragile and won’t be enough to substantially reduce unemployment – at approximately 10 percent – however unemployment levels among Visit California’s target demographic should remain below 3.5 percent.

Over the last 12 months, the U.S. dollar has continued to fluctuate against the Euro. It peaked in 2014 to 1.39 but has since returned to levels approximately 1.21. The fluctuation is within the usual parameters of activity and is not expected to significantly affect travel unless it remains above 1€/1$ for a sustained period of time.


Nonstop Airservice into California

    Avg. Weekly Flights Avg. Weekly Seats  
Airport  Airline 34 12,241 Cities Served
LAX Air France 13 5,339 Paris
  Air Tahiti Nui  5 1,376 Paris
SFO  Air France 9 3,607 Paris
  XL Airways France 2 614 Paris
  United 6 1,305 Paris



Both 2013 and 2014 saw increased capacity from existing carriers and the introduction of new carriers to the market from France to California, as well as the return of a non-stop United flight from Paris to SFO. With the prospect of a sustained period of low oil prices, airfares are predicted to stabilize or fall, especially for the long-haul competitive markets like California. New capacity confirmed so far for the California gateways in 2015 includes a third flight for XL Airways into SFO while Air France has increased capacity by repositioning its daily A380 flights to SFO and LAX. The confidence shown by the airlines in route development and expansion has, of course, been based on increased consumer demand. France travelers, notably Parisians, have historically been geographically at an advantage in using many of the continent’s and United Kingdom’s direct routes into California. 


Trip Information and Booking Sources** (2013)

  Travel Information Air Travel Booking Methods
Travel Agencies 18.9% 21.7%
Airlines Direct 37.9% 33.2%
Tour Operators 8.3% 9.2%
Personal Computer/OTA 28.6% 25.2%
Corporate Travel Office 11.7% 10.8%
Personal Recommendation 27.2% n.a.
Travel Guide 19.1% n.a.


** multiple sources

Travel Trends

  • Growth in luxury travel with increased demand for five-star and resort accommodation.
  • Demand for and interest in cultural events. Travel and culture are definitely linked for the French visitors.
  • Renewed growth in demand for escorted tours that allow the French visitors to more carefully manage budget.
  • Increased demand for villa and apartment rentals. The French visitor prefers to “live like a local.”
  • An increase in challenge and activity trips fueled by a desire to explore the outdoors.

Market Strategies


  • On the public relations front, the strategy for France is to continue to focus on developing and maintaining close relationships with key consumer and travel trade journalists and media outlets to keep California top of mind. Messaging will be focused on California’s abundance best illustrated through the experience pillars.
  • Support 15 to 20 individual press visits to California.
  • Connect media to Visit California’s online tools and media content including press releases, “What’s New in California” product news, media blog, pitches, videos, images, and B-roll to extend the brand message and reach in consumer and trade media channels.
  • Produce dedicated French-language Press Dossier for journalists.
  • Develop and maintain strong trade relationships – both online and offline – to ensure California product is well represented, up-to-date and that the programs embrace the diversity and abundance of the state.
  • Maximize dedicated California-only packages, versus being part of shared West Coast tours in tour operator brochures.
  • Ensure product managers and agents are well informed of product in California by direct training, FAMs and targeted e-newsletters.
  • To increase awareness and drive bookings, secure co-op campaigns with key operators, as well as work with airlines to increase the number of flights to California, airline seat support for FAMs and support product launches.


  • Host top media outlets and digital influencers with engaging and interesting California stories to tell. As it is widely used by French journalists, produce the second generation of the Press Dossier.
  • Produce media events focused on the brand pillars to engage with media, bloggers and other appropriate social influencers.
  • Increase collaboration and partnership with digital travel channels and guide publishers – particularly those with a luxury or aspirational focus – and seek opportunities to support and encourage broadcast media.
  • Increase promotion of the Media Center, with localized landing page, to better equip media outlets with tools and content.
  • Expand scope and frequency of Club California live training sessions in major regional cities outside Paris from December to May.
  • Promote travel trade portal in these expanded training regions.
  • Organize a California Advisory Board with director-level industry leaders to explore and leverage joint assets in marketing activities.
  • During peak winter booking season, execute a significant co-op activity to encompass digital consumer engagement and significant PR and trade opportunities.
  • Develop luxury product strategy for the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes.

2015/2016 Plan Highlights

  • Increase live training events in more venues across France.
  • Create Club California and more team-building as part of the training strategy.
  • Enhance the trade and media FAM hosting program to garner future bookings and earned media coverage.
  • Introduce agent-level awards program to incentivize Online Training Program participation.
  • Develop a wider connection with social influencers and bloggers around themed PR events that bring the Dream Big brand promise to life with an emphasis on the five experience pillars.
  • France Sales and Media Mission to include an enhanced level of programming for both guests and delegates.
  • Invest in coordinated consumer digital, trade and media co-op with key tour operators during peak booking timeframe.
  • Optimize consumer website localized content to better serve consumer demand and drive consumer action.

Familiarity & Interest of California Areas

  Like to Visit Like to Learn More About It I'm Not Interested
San Francisco Bay Area 75% 22% 4%
Deserts 68% 30% 4%
Los Angeles County 53% 35% 14%
San Diego County 49% 42% 11%
High Sierra 45% 48% 9%
Shasta Cascade 41% 50% 11%
Inland Empire 40% 47% 15%
North Coast 38% 52% 13%
Central Coast 37% 52% 14%
Gold Country 34% 55% 13%
Central Valley 33% 55% 13%
Orange County 29% 50% 22%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012

Top 10 Motivating California Features

San Francisco 56%
Death Valley/Deserts 48%
Yosemite/Half Dome 36%
Los Angeles 31%
California Redwoods 31%
Hollywood 28%
Universal Studios Hollywood 24%
Beaches 21%
Joshua Tree National Park 20%
Golden Gate Bridge 20%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012


Murielle Nouchy
Managing Director
Nick Vine
Account Director
Lea Brochard
Account Executive & PR Lead
Mailys De Seze
Content Manager
Veronique Amsellem
Travel Trade Manager
MN Organization
Phone: +33 (0) 3918 9999
Fax: +33 (0) 1 3082 7355


Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc