Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 262,000 9.1%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $481 million 7.7%
California Market Share (2014) 27.2% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 19.5 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) n.a. n.a.
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) n.a. n.a.
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 299,000 9.5%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 376,000 37.7%

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 45.0% $201 million
Entertainment/Recreation 8.8% $39 million
Food & Beverage 14.0% $62 million
Ground Transportation 10.1% $45 million
Shopping 12.9% $58 million
U.S. Air Transportation 7.1% $32 million
Other 2.1% $9 million
Total 100% $446 million

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


International Markets

India has established its place as a top emerging markets for California. The World Tourism Organizations estimates India will produce 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Meanwhile, Indian arrivals into the United States are expected to increase 37.7 percent by 2018.

More than 262,000 visitors from India spent $481 million in California in 2014, accounting for 27.2 percent of the U.S. market share. Visitation from India to California is forecasted to grow 9.5 percent in 2015 and 37.7 percent between 2014-2018.

The ease of the Visa process, now granted for 10 years, is a key factor for the sustained positive growth. Despite a weak currency in 2013 – the rupee hit an all-time low against the dollar in August 2013 – Indian tourists to the United States have emerged as some of the world’s biggest spenders. With an average stay of 20 nights in the state, Indian travellers today have evolved into experiential travellers who are constantly updated and are looking for niche experiences and unexplored destinations.

With a population of 1.2 billion, India is a young country with more than 65 percent younger than 35 years old. The young generation is more adventurous and willing to try new things leading to a high demand for outdoor, entertainment-driven, unusual experiences, all of which California has in abundance to offer.

As the first U.S. tourism board in India, Visit California is well-positioned to continue its trajectory to foster awareness and affinity for the California brand.


As India’s economy matures, a growing middle class and increasing affluence continue to encourage travel. The Indian middle class is forecasted to reach 267 million people in next five years – up 67 percent from current levels. India’s currency is on the rise, and with a newly elected prime minister, the Indian government is moving aggressively forward with reforms signalling positive economic growth indicators and job creation.


The Indian civil aviation industry is growing quickly in a new era of expansion driven by low-cost carriers, modern airports, foreign direct investments in domestic airlines, cutting-edge technology and a growing emphasis on regional connectivity.

 With no nonstop flights into California, the Indian traveler is well-accustomed to traveling via hubs to long-haul destinations. But several game changers are in the works:

  • Etihad Airways has added 30,000 seats and a major focus on North American gateways. In 2013, Etihad announced a strategic partnership with Jet Airways, an Indian carrier, resulting in its global network increasing to 130 international destinations.
  • Etihad launched two new routes into SFO and LAX in 2014.
  • Consumers travelling on Etihad Airways to the United States can clear U.S. Customs and border protection at Abu Dhabi Airport which further ensures smooth travel into California.
  • Emirates Airline has recently become a preferred airline with 185 weekly flights into Dubai that can connect to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Qatar Airways’ code-share partnership with American Airlines provides seamless entry into major gateways in North America.
  • Turkish Airlines is scheduled to launch an SFO route in April 2015.
  • British Airways is in a codeshare partnership with American Airlines. Delta Air Lines’ partnership with Air France-KLM and Lufthansa and Air India as part of the Star Alliance further enhances connectivity into California.
  • Korean Air added a new route to San Jose in December 2014, and have three weekly flights from Mumbai.
  • Cathay Pacific has announced an increase in summer frequency from Hong Kong to San Francisco from 14 to 17 weekly flights. It provides service from eight Indian cities and provide connections into Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Trip Information and Booking Sources** (2013)

  Travel Information Air Travel Booking Methods
Travel Agencies 21.7% 30.8%
Airlines Direct 38.3% 11.1%
Tour Operators 6.5% 4.2%
Personal Computer/OTA 23.5% 17.2%
Corporate Travel Office 35.5% 11.1%
Personal Recommendation 21.3% n.a.
Travel Guide 3.9% n.a.


** multiple sources

Travel Trends

  • Growth in various travel segments, especially flexible independent and special interest travel.
  • Higher demand for custom packages including new experiences, activities and destinations.
  • Increased interest in nightlife, food, entertainment, self-drive holidays, outdoor adventure and national parks.
  • Increase in luxury travel leads to elevated demand for high-end accommodation and experiences offering bragging rights.
  • Travelers visiting friends and relatives more likely to vary trip, spending time traveling on their own using various resources.
  • Internet remains the primary source of information, followed by personal recommendations by friends and family and advice from travel professionals.
  • Major drivers for international travel are sightseeing, entertainment and nightlife, theme parks, beaches and water sports, shopping, adventure and outdoor activities, cultural and historical attractions and local lifestyle
  • The United States is gaining popularity with the MICE segment. Corporate India now understands the importance of attending international conventions and exhibitions as an important tool to grow business. San Francisco and Los Angeles are popular choices for meetings and incentives in the United States, with San Diego and Orange County gaining popularity, especially for the repeat groups.


Market Strategies


  • Continue educating the travel trade on the diversity of California via ongoing educational seminars conducted across the country.
  • Promote California Expert program, which has attained immense success with a high completion rate.
  • Ensure unexplored and new offerings are added to itineraries promoted by the trade by etching California in the minds of senior travel trade executives.
  • Conduct regular engagement programs, and be a one-stop resource for media and travel industry.
  • With the recent roll-out of the travel trade website in this market, new possibilities to provide information to the trade, augment efforts to introduce California itineraries to new tour operators and travel agents and expand existing product.
  • Ongoing trade activities such as organizing trade FAMs for major tour operators with focus on regions beyond the gateways. Tactical co-ops with major national and regional players will entice potential travelers.
  • Partnerships with airlines for FAM support and new route launches rounds out trade outreach.
  • Engage media with regular calls, roundtable meetings, networking forums and product updates.
  • Host a high-end consumer media event to showcase the California lifestyle through several elements, including food and wine, wellness and outdoors.


  • Continue educating travel trade through Brand USA educational seminars and expanding to other cities via webinars.
  • Growing FIT, special interest and luxury segments.
  • Ensure there is California product available year-round for the travel trade to promote to consumers.
  • Expand partnership opportunities, including digital, with major tour operators and airlines during optimum booking season.
  • Focus on specific brand pillars to support overall California brand message and extend reach through generating editorial coverage in key media channels. To increase coverage, host media trips to showcase luxury, outdoor, entertainment and family.

2015/2016 Plan Highlights

With the increased budget for trade and PR, major activities will include:

  • Comprehensive program to educate trade on the diversity and the variety of experiences available in California.
  • Digital promotion with major online portals targeting industry and consumer audiences and expand the Dream Big message.
  • Implement targeted large-scale trade co-ops. Tactical co-ops with major national and regional tour operators and create visibility via print and digital channels.
  • Identify agents that handle the luxury segment and assist them in developing luxury itineraries for California.
  • Continue to participate in the Brand USA India Mission, including the MICE track.
  • Enhanced hosting of FAM trips for trade and media.
  • Develop a list of major bloggers and social media influencers and provide relevant content.
  • Increased focus on high-end lifestyle media.
  • Further develop a signature a high-end media engagement program that promotes the California experience and fosters ongoing relationships.


Sheema Vohra
Account Director
Christina Colney
Account Manager
Niren Yadav
Public Relations Manager
Sartha Marketing
Phone: 91 11 49210000 19
Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc