What is Visit California?
Visit California is a private-non profit entity created in 1997 by the California Tourism Marketing Act and approved by the travel industry. Visit California operates under the auspices of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development and the Director serves as Chair of the organization. From 1998 to 2003, the California Tourism program consisted of the originally conceived private-public joint marketing venture partnership of Visit California and the State of California. In the 03/04 and 04/05 FY, the Visit California program operated without the State participation of the public funding – the sole source of California tourism marketing budget was directly derived from Visit California assessed businesses in the travel and tourism industry. Public funding was again restored 05/06 FY. The sole source of California tourism marketing budget is now directly derived from assessed businesses in the travel and tourism industry.
Who are the Visit California Commissioners?
The Commissioners are travel and tourism industry leaders representing various regions and industry categories. They are elected by their peers or appointed to serve on behalf of the Governor.
What prompted the legislation that created the assessment?
The legislation was created because of a dramatic downturn in California’s domestic travel market share in the early 1990s. California legislators introduced the bill at the request of tourism and travel related businesses that experienced a resulting loss of business from the declining market share.
How does my business benefit from the assessment?
Visit California collectively does what other businesses cannot do individually. The travel industry stated a need to promote “the California destination” because no other organization promotes all of California. Without this program, California would be the only state in the nation without an aggressive marketing campaign. In 2015, California's tourism industry generated approximately $122.5 billion in spending, employed 1,064,000 Californians, and contributed $9.9 billion in state and local taxes.
Why did my business receive the Tourism Assessment Form?
The tourism assessment form is sent to businesses that are in areas and industry categories that typically benefit from tourism. The sources for the business names range from business lists, promotional publications, on-site identification surveys and internet listings. The sources are continually updated. Your business was identified on one of these lists in the past year and was added to our list of potentially assessable businesses. Eventually, all potentially assessable businesses should receive a tourism assessment form.
Am I assessable if most of my receipts are from business travelers?
Yes, if you meet the income threshold (gross revenues exceeding $1 million, with at least one percent coming from tourist business). The assessment is computed on receipts derived from travel, which includes business travel. For a complete definition of a “visitor” or “travel and tourism” and other defining criteria, see Definitions.
What type of documentation do I have to provide?
You do not need to provide documentation. You are only required to provide figures. However, retain your computation methodology for three years in case the Tourism Assessment Program has a question about your calculations.
Is a separate form necessary for each location?
Yes, you must file for each business location. Contact the Tourism Assessment Program office at 916.322.1266 if you need assistance reporting for more than one business location.
After completing the Tourism Assessment Form, I find that my business is exempt. Do I need to file a form next year too?
In any year that you receive the Tourism Assessment Form, you must complete and return it. Whether or not you receive future mailings is dependent in part on the reason(s) your business qualified for the exemption.