Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 439,000 4.2%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $720 million 2.4%
California Market Share (2014) 22.3% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 9.7 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) 44 6.5%
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) 16,194 6.1%
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 430,000 1.4%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 493,000 16.3%

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 33.5% $236 million
Entertainment/Recreation 13.8% $97 million
Food & Beverage 21.5% $151 million
Ground Transportation 6.7% $47 million
Shopping 14.0% $98 million
U.S. Air Transportation 6.0% $42 million
Other 4.6% $32 million
Total 100% $703 million

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


International Markets

Germany is a mature, stable market that has shown steady visitation to California during the last decade. Visit California has had a presence in the German market for more than 20 years. In 2014, California welcomed 439,000 German visitors who spent a total of $709 million. In 2013, German visitors stayed an average of 9.7 nights. California attracts more than one in five Germans traveling to the United States. Growth is forecasted at 16.3 percent from 2014-2018.

Vacations and travel remain one of Germans’ most important leisure activities. While the majority of German travelers prefer package tours, these travelers are very adventurous and get off the beaten path.

Germans are among the highest ranked in advanced planning time, with more than four months of research before booking a summer vacation, allowing more opportunity to connect with the German consumer. In 2014, German tour operators set a revenue record of an estimated $34.7 billion, affirming the continued strength of the German tourism economy.


The German economy remains strong and vital, encouraging German exporters to seize opportunities in foreign markets. Strong economic indicators, coupled with positive consumer sentiment has triggered consumer spending and boosted travel booking. The optimistic climate is expected to increase over the course of 2015 if the economic recovery in the Euro Zone strengthens. Under these conditions, the tourism sector generates approximately 8 percent of the total German Gross Domestic Product, which is forecasted to increase 1 percent in 2015 and 1.6 percent in 2016. Other positive factors include unemployment remaining relatively unchanged at 6.5 percent, marked wage increases and low interest rates.


Nonstop Airservice into California

    Avg. Weekly Flights Avg. Weekly Seats  
Airport  Airline 43 16,300 Cities Served
LAX Air Berlin 4 1,114 Duesseldorf
  Lufthansa 16 5,971 Frankfurt, Munich
SFO Lufthansa 14 5,430 Frankfurt, Munich
  United 10 3,784 Munich



There are more than 50 weekly nonstop flights from Germany’s hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Dusseldorf into California, accounting for approximately 20,000 weekly seats into the gateways of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

United Airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin share the bulk of market share for German nonstop outbound flights. British Airways and Air New Zealand’s London-Heathrow to LAX flights also are a big advantage for Germany as both airlines sell very proactively in the German market.

  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will begin new route between Copenhagen and San Francisco.
  • For the 2015 summer season, Air Berlin will increase in weekly air capacity from Dusseldorf to Los Angeles, and Swiss International Air Lines will increase daily connections to San Francisco from Zurich.
  • German leisure airline Condor plans to install weekly air service from Frankfurt to San Diego in 2016-2017.


Trip Information and Booking Sources** (2013)

  Travel Information Air Travel Booking Methods
Travel Agencies 29.7% 33.3%
Airlines Direct 36.9% 22.1%
Tour Operators 7.2% 6.2%
Personal Computer/OTA 40.7% 30.2%
Corporate Travel Office 14.4% 12.7%
Personal Recommendation 25.5% n.a.
Travel Guide 20.8% n.a.


** multiple sources

Travel Trends

  • The expanded booking season is catching the eye of tour operators that are extending early-bird specials to optimize revenue. Early booking numbers for summer 2015 are up 6.7 percent over 2014.
  • New interest and demand for luxury travel by middle-class consumers who are seeking quality experiences.
  • Long-haul travel will be very popular in 2015. Extra charges on air travel – due to civil aviation tax, volatility in oil prices, currency exchange impacts and the inclusion into the emission trade system – have curbed demand for dream-like destinations.
  • Beach holidays, outdoor adventure trips and family vacations are among the most popular vacation themes for German travelers.

Market Strategies


  • Visit California earmarks nearly 40 percent of its Germany budget for increasing visitation through the travel trade while leveraging media relations and owned channels to drive consumer demand for the California experience.
  • Key programming includes hosting several tour operator MegaFAMS and the Germany Sales Days.
  • Key strategies for trade outreach includes continued agent training – in-person, through the online training program and via familiarization trips –fostering trade relationships, gathering industry intelligence, developing product and maintaining a strong market presence.
  • Ongoing PR activities include media pitching, securing an average of 35 press visits a year and connecting industry partners with top media influencers.


  • Develop more agent training opportunities, with a focus on secondary cities and increasing participation in tour operator road shows.
  • Enhance FAM opportunities for travel trade and media, with a new layer of co-op marketing with travel trade partners, including mid-sized niche operators.
  • Improve Visit California’s owned digital channels to provide inspiration, content and guidance to the ‘always on’ consumer.
  • Expand media relations activities to ramp up editorial coverage through increased broadcast support and leverage in digital influencer programs. Smart, memorable PR stunts will create a buzz and secure extensive media attention in the public arena.

15/16 Plan Highlights

Trade, PR and consumer plan highlights in the expanded budget environment will include:

  • Building large-scale co-ops with primary trade players, involving brand partners to reach consumers directly through the travel trade channels.
  • Expanding educational opportunities and trade FAM hosting programs for product managers and decision-makers.
  • Deeper involvement in travel trade shows in primary and secondary German cities.
  • Expanding earned media coverage to tell the California brand story through digital influencers.
  • Increasing media visits to California, including supporting more broadcast productions.
  • Building social activity to ensure and deepen engagement that drives demand for a California experience. 

Familiarity & Interest of California Areas

  Like to Visit Like to Learn More About It I'm Not Interested
San Francisco Bay Area 70% 31% 5%
Los Angeles County 64% 32% 9%
Deserts 50% 37% 17%
San Diego County 46% 43% 17%
Central Coast 43% 47% 13%
Orange County 42% 45% 16%
North Coast 42% 46% 15%
High Sierra 39% 50% 15%
Central Valley 38% 50% 15%
Gold Country 36% 51% 16%
Inland Empire 30% 48% 25%
Shasta Cascade 28% 49% 25%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012

Top 10 Motivating California Features

San Francisco 50%
Los Angeles 39%
Hollywood 35%
Golden Gate Bridge 33%
Beaches 33%
California Redwoods 30%
Death Valley/Deserts 26%
Disneyland 23%
Beverly Hills 23%
Yosemite/Half Dome 19%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012


Martin Walter
Managing Director
Mirko Rudnik
Consumer Marketing Director
Georgios Tserdakidis
Communications Manager
Jasmine Trippe
Travel Trade Manager
MSI – Marketing Services International GmbH
Phone: +49 (0) 6102 88479-130
Fax: +49 (0) 6102 88479-139
Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc