Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 178,000 13.3%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $280 million -10.2%
California Market Share (2014) 19.0% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 11.6 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) 4 36.7%
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) 1,203 39.1%
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 188,000 6.2%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 207,000 16.9%

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 36.8% $115 million
Entertainment/Recreation 12.8% $40 million
Food & Beverage 25.0% $78 million
Ground Transportation 5.4% $17 million
Shopping 13.5% $42 million
U.S. Air Transportation 4.4% $14 million
Other 2.2% $7 million
Total 100% $312 million

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


International Markets

Italy is one of California’s largest overseas markets, with 178,000 visitors traveling to the state in 2014. Italians spent a collective $280 million in California with an average per trip spend of $1,574.

After New York City, California is the preferred destination for Italians visiting the United States with a 19 percent U.S. market share. Italians prefer to travel with family and friends, and California’s abundance and diversity is a natural showcase of family-friendly, entertainment and outdoor experiences. Italians love California for the dramatic beauty of its natural parks, big cities featured in Hollywood productions, relaxed lifestyle and sense of freedom. A vacation in California is considered safe and easy-going, while offering an incomparable array of experiences.


Economic recession has put pressure on Italy’s outbound travel, which is exacerbated by the fact that Italians are currently paying the highest airfares on average in Europe. However, several indicators point to stabilization of business conditions for 2015. The projected revival of Italy’s export market, fueled by lower oil prices, will help support stronger growth with the country’s Gross Domestic Product expected to grow an average of 1.3 percent per year in 2015-2017. Unemployment will begin to decline in 2016, but it is set to remain at high levels, while wage gains are expected to remain modest.

To support economic growth, the government has appropriately delayed fiscal consolidation and has completed some initial steps in its comprehensive plan of structural reforms. Italy’s government is enjoying increasing approval rates and rising consumer confidence. This healthier outlook, along with improving stability in the country, is expected to improve Italians’ ability to travel abroad.


Nonstop Airservice into California

    Avg. Weekly Flights Avg. Weekly Seats  
Airport Airline 5 1,332 Cities Served
LAX Alitalia 5 1,332 Rome



The Italian market is among the largest traffic feeder to the United States for European airlines, including British Airways, Air France/KLM and Lufthansa/Swiss.

Italy’s flagship airline – the new Alitalia – formed from the 49 percent acquisition by Etihad Airways, and is strong from a substantial refinancing. Alitalia will play a strategic role in the future of Italian aviation with large-scale countrywide connectivity infrastructure projects to Italy airports.

Alitalia officially announced an increase of capacity from Italy to the United States. For California, this includes the opening of a direct flight from Rome to SFO expected in 2016. The current direct service from Rome to LAX is expected to change from seasonal to year-around. Italian travelers also will benefit from the increase of seat capacity to California announced for 2015 by several European airlines.


Trip Information and Booking Sources** (2013)

  Travel Information Air Travel Booking Methods
Travel Agencies 3.9% 34.1%
Airlines Direct 34.6% 19.8%
Tour Operators 19.8% 19.8%
Personal Computer/OTA 41.3% 22.7%
Corporate Travel Office 17.1% 7.5%
Personal Recommendation 23.3% n.a.
Travel Guide 21.2% n.a.


** multiple sources

Travel Trends

  • Honeymoons are expected to remain popular during May through July and September and October.
  • Summer travel continues to be widespread among by families and groups of friends.
  • An increase in fly-and-drive packages, especially for motorcycle rentals that are becoming more popular.
  • Strong demand for custom itineraries over traditional escorted tours.
  • Most visitors still attracted by iconic destinations, but there are clear indicators show more travelers looking for less-known places to visit, authenticating their experience.
  • Uptick in new fly-and-train packages as featured in top tour operator programs, which also has piqued media interest.


Market Strategies



  • Implement trade and PR activities to promote the overall diversity of the state and foster awareness to stimulate consumer demand.
  • Solidify relationships with key tour operators by helping them develop new California product and co-op partnerships, training the trade through trade shows, workshops and FAM opportunities
  • Promote travel trade and media tools as key selling and storytelling resources, and pitch California as a year-round, premier travel destination to media outlets.
  • Host Italian Olympic skier, Christof Innerhofer, as he lived his California Dream Big adventures conquering Mammoth Mountain, skydiving off of Mt. Tamalpais, cycling up Twin Peaks and around Mammoth Lakes, an fishing in the High Sierras.
  • Execute a social media contest culminating in a media FAM where online content creation will expand the reach of the Dream Big aspirational messaging.




  • Emphasize incentivizing the California Expert online training program.
  • Host additional training to travel trade in secondary cities.
  • Use Brand USA’s Italy network and participate in webinars to promote expanded itineraries in California and new product.
  • Leverage the Italian trade through tour operators co-ops, FAM hosting and sales incentives.
  • Promote the new to boost traffic and help influence consumers’ holiday decision making.
  • Expand on PR activities such as media pitching and press trips to strengthen key media relationships and serve as a resource for California content and assets.
  • Inspire media with original story ideas aimed at giving greater visibility to beyond the gateway destinations.


2015/2016 Plan Highlights


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

  • Focus on agent training including sales challenges and incentive campaigns.
  • Expand training to include online webinars to further reach travel trade community.
  • Use Brochure Analysis to conduct targeted product information and training to trade.
  • Increase partnerships with strategic trade partners to develop print and online co-op campaigns.
  • Increase FAM opportunities to support mid-sized tour operators and increase their brochure product offering and bookings.
  • Create a travel agent MegaFAM with key tour operator and increase exposure to rural destinations.
  • Optimize content selection on consumer site to drive traffic and support the “always on” information hub.
  • Seek and provide proactive opportunities with media for new California stories and press trips to gain editorial placements.
  • Showcase the abundance and diversity of California with an in-market media event with emphasis on the five experience pillars



Massimo Loquenzi
Managing Director
Maria Teresa Rizzitiello
Account Manager
Laura Lucidi
Communications Manager
Francesca Loquenzi
Social Media and Content Assistant

Master Consulting FL Srl
Phone: 39 06 4201 1376
Fax: 39 06 4200 3836

Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc