Let’s Bring the World to

Coronavirus pandemic ravaged California's travel economy in 2020.

Visitor Spending
State & Local Tax Revenues
*Statistics reflect the 2020 calendar year. Source: Dean Runyan Associates, Inc.
CEO Update: Destination Stewardship
Setting the Stage for a Pivotal Outlook Forum

By Caroline Beteta

With Visit California’s virtual Outlook Forum only a month away, I’d like to set the stage with a preview of some of the major conference themes and topics I’ll be covering in my keynote. I’ve also included some related industry resources to help you prepare for the conference and that may be of use to your organization right now.

It’s Up to Us

The pandemic remains the elephant in the room. It has certainly affected Outlook Forum, down to the virtual format. But in every crisis there is opportunity: this year’s conference is the most accessible: A record number of industry members have registered already, with more than half attending for the first time.

Our industry is in a position to lead the way in the next stage of recovery. The tourism industry cannot, on its own, stop the spread of COVID-19, prevent wildfires, or solve the myriad of persistent issues that are tarnishing the California brand. And make no mistake — California was hit hard in 2020. However, we are California’s brand stewards and the first movers of economic recovery.

I look forward to sharing more about the importance of tourism industry leadership in times of crisis:  

  • How California’s tourism industry and Visit California have led the way out of past crises
  • Visit California’s strategy to encourage responsible travel
  • Visit California’s pandemic-era marketing and its agile, cost-effective strategy
  • How a destination stewardship mindset is shaping Visit California’s crisis response
  • California’s structural advantages in combatting the pandemic and restoring tourism 

Additional resources:

  • Coronavirus Update  – Track key tourism indicators through a weekly research dashboard and download industry resources
  • Travel Matters – Learn more about Visit California’s foundational work communicating tourism’s importance to California’s key opinion leaders
  • Subscribe to Newsletters – Stay up-to-date on the issues facing our industry and Visit California initiatives with industry newsletters and a weekly CEO email

The way forward

California’s tourism industry is well positioned to recover economically, but there’s no denying the industry has a steep hill to climb.

To overcome this setback and shorten the recovery window, we need to understand how the market and consumer sentiment are shifting and prepare to ramp up marketing when demand returns. Economic forecasts indicate a five-year recovery, and we’ve already experienced that it will be a jagged one, at least in the near future. To help you prepare, several high-profile economists will be giving U.S. and international forecasts at Outlook Forum.

One undeniable lesson from the past year is importance of a strong, cohesive California brand. California’s statewide marketing program may be most visible in times of prosperity, but it’s most essential during recovery.

Most importantly, the industry must continue to embrace collaboration and speak with one voice. The challenges of the pandemic, I hope, will create opportunities to rise together — to this end, this year’s Outlook Forum will feature sessions on new Visit California resources and partnership opportunities.   

One of the biggest shifts for the Visit California organization and a major conference theme is the pivot to an in-state and domestic audience. I’ll explore how the organization is adapting its strategy and programs to reach this audience — alongside our eventual plans to resurrect travel from California’s tier-1 international markets.

I look forward discussing the way forward for Visit California and California’s tourism industry:

  • Visit California’s consumer sentiment and behavior research and its impact on marketing decisions
  • Economic forecasts
  • Visit California partnership opportunities for your organization’s marketing and travel trade programs
  • Visit California’s 2021 marketing plan
  • The pivot to in-state and domestic travel
  • The return of international travel

Additional resources:

See you soon

While I’m excited to speak with you at 2021 Outlook Forum, I’m most looking forward to experiencing the conference as an attendee. Previewing the conference’s 20 sessions has already sparked fresh ideas and focused my thinking about the future of our industry and how we can build back better.

Until February, be well and Dream Big.

National Plan for Vacation Day 2021 - Palm Springs
Visit California Makes Big Trip-Planning Push on National Plan for Vacation Day

By Kristen Bonilla

U.S. Travel Association’s National Plan for Vacation Day occurs Jan.26. This year’s event comes with an added sense of urgency, both for pent-up travelers and the tourism businesses eager to receive them. Given that trip planning translates directly to actual travel, Visit California is launching several first-time initiatives to leverage this national spotlight on trip planning to help restore tourism to California.

National Plan for Vacation Day 2021
U.S. Travel Association created National Plan for Vacation day in response to a persistent challenge in American life: Americans are not using their vacation days. The Institute for Applied Positive Research found that while 77% of American workers are very happy while on vacation and 93% believe travel is important, Americans left 33% of their paid time off on the table. Put simply, Americans appreciate the importance of travel to their wellbeing, but the country’s work-centric culture prevents many from following through on vacations.

In past years, Californians have had the dubious distinction among states of leaving the most paid time off on the table. Now they expect to take 39% more time off in 2021 than they did last year, according to research by SMARInsights. More than half said they will travel as much as they did before the pandemic, while 18% said they will travel even more to make up for lost time.

Unsurprisingly, encouraging trip planning increases the use of paid time off for travel and tourism. Planners use an average of about four more days of PTO than non-planners.

The pandemic has only underscored the importance of trip planning. Americans have had far fewer opportunities to travel — six in 10 feel they desperately need a vacation. Regardless of a particular destination’s current travel restrictions or a given consumer’s sentiment toward travel, everyone can start planning their next trip. Simply taking this step significantly boosts happiness according to Destination Analysts, and importantly for the tourism industry, drives future travel and tourism activity while also improving the travel experience.

Support National Plan for Vacation Day with additional research, talking points and media in U.S. Travel’s industry toolkit.

Visit California Encourages Trip Planning  
Visit California has big plans for this year’s National Plan for Vacation Day to help consumers chart their escape:

  • The California Dream Dial, a free, limited-time hotline, will connect consumers with a California travel expert to begin planning a road trip. Users will complete a short questionnaire to make a 20-minute appointment for Tuesday. Those without appointments can call the hotline directly at 1-833-PLAN-PTO from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT on Jan. 26. For more information, read the press release on Visit California’s media center, or see recent coverage on Travel & Leisure online or Forbes.
  • VisitCalifornia.com/plan2021, Visit California’s National Plan for Vacation Day online hub, is live and includes appointment scheduling. It also includes links to planning tools, such as 10 Ways to Celebrate National Plan for Vacation Day, how to Take Advantage of National Plan for Vacation Day, and safe and responsible travel tips.
  • Trip Planning in 2021,” the 50th episode of Visit California’s “California Now” podcast, shares ideas and expert perspectives on travel in 2021.
  • Social media influencers are doing Q&A stories to answer followers’ California travel questions and inspire them to plan their future travel on National Plan for Vacation Day, all of which will be amplified on Visit California’s social channels with hashtags #PlanForVacation and #VisitCalifornia.
  • E-Newsletters in the week leading up to National Plan for Vacation Day focus on trip planning and encourage consumers to sign up for Dream Dial.

Help get the word out by pitching media contacts on National Plan for Vacation Day, especially the research on paid time off and pent-up demand, the link between planning and an improved outlook and the boost to California’s economy when travel resumes. While you’re pitching, tell them about the Dream Dial. And engage your social followers by encouraging them to ask travel planning questions using #PlanForVacation.



Spring Board Meeting 2021

May 2021 | FREE


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Ongoing | Varies


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Starting at $10,000

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