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Let’s Bring the World to

California tourism economy grew in 2021; still lags pre-pandemic peak.

Visitor Spending
State & Local Tax Revenues
*Statistics reflect the 2021 calendar year. Source: Dean Runyan Associates, Inc.
Mexico City
Mexico Trade Retreat Creates Opportunities for California Partners

By Jocilyn Schumacher

Visit California and a delegation of 28 business and destination partners traveled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for a Trade Retreat to meet with 60+ travel trade, Jan. 25-27. Throughout the course of the week, delegates and guests engaged in relationship-building activities, 1-1 meetings, and interactive events.  The new retreat format, which debuted in November in the U.K. market, offers California partners multiple touch points to engage with trade executives and strengthen these invaluable relationships. The format creates more opportunities for longer one-on-one and group engagements, enhanced by such as a winery tour and tasting, traditional Mexican pastry making, cocktail making, meditation and bike building for charity.   By the numbers: 28 California trade industry partners — Visit California's largest trade delegation to Mexico!  17 destinations 11 assessed businesses including hotels, retail and attractions 25 Mexico-based VIP trade buyers were brought into meet with partners in San Miguel de Allende 32 travel agents from Price Travel trained  6 bikes built and donated to Mexican Association for Aid to Children with Cancer as part of the relationship-building activities Mexico remains one of the largest and most important markets for California post-pandemic. Mexico was one of the only markets to never fully close during the pandemic leading to a strong peso and inflation on par with the US. Air and ground entry remained relatively strong through the pandemic, and airlift looks to increase when Mexico regains its “category 1” FAA status this March, allowing new inbound routes to be opened by Mexican carriers. The retreat also made clear that California professional sports have become a major interest driver for the state. Traveling games in Mexico by the 49ers have been incredibly popular, and the upcoming Padres-Giants game in April is expected to drive a surge of interest in California Major League Baseball.  The FAA downgrade created an opening for U.S. carriers to increase their presence in Mexico. United representatives discussed how this is impacting their business and their future plans. Notably, they are expanding flight service into Mexico in 2024/25. To help California partners take advantage of increased visitation and air traffic out of Mexico, Visit California will be offering co-ops for California industry partners with AeroMexico, Viajes el Corte Ingles and Price Travel. The Mexican travel advisors and tour operators at the event also shared invaluable insights about their market. Here are some of the key takeaways: Inflation is holding steady in the market allowing for travel to remain a top priority, but price is still the top barrier to travel.  California is one of the top destinations due to ease of access and overall price in comparison to other destinations like Europe. Los Angeles and San Francisco are top destinations for California. More people, including younger generations, are booking with agents to secure the best prices and level of knowledge.  There is a huge opportunity for expanding knowledge of California destinations outside of the gateways.  Luxury travelers in Mexico are a big opportunity for California.  Travel within Mexico has gotten very expensive, if not more so, than traveling to the U.S. This is actually an opportunity for California destinations vs a beach destination in Mexico.  Visa wait times are 6-8 months, so repeat visitors are high priority as they don’t face this lengthy wait.  Price Travel is already outpacing their 2019 numbers, strong evidence that travel is a top priority for the market.  Visit California will continue to utilize the new retreat format given the success of this event, reinforced by overwhelmingly positive survey feedback from delegates and the record number of delegates participating.  
Kind Traveler Redwoods
Kind Traveler and Visit California Partner to Foster Sustainable Travel

By Lindsey Cody

Just in time for National Plan for Vacation Day on Jan. 31, the first statewide regenerative travel program launched between Visit California and Kind Traveler, a sustainable travel booking platform. The program spotlights new opportunities for travelers to make a positive impact in the communities they visit while unlocking exclusive offers. Participating properties include more than 58 iconic hotels across 13 stunning destinations in the Golden State — featuring 38 brand-new hotels and impact opportunities for 2023. With more than 97% of travelers revealing they feel it’s important for their vacation dollars to positively impact the communities they visit (Kind Traveler 2022 Impact Tourism Report), and 55% of Americans forfeiting vacation days each year, it has never been easier to dream big and plan a vacation that not only creates meaningful memories and fosters necessary relaxation and mental health benefits, but also generates a lasting community impact. Through the simple act of booking a hotel with Kind Traveler, travelers can now travel kindly and support more than 25 California-based, vetted charities advancing both community wellbeing and environmental sustainability. Through Kind Traveler’s Give + Get hotel booking and education platform, travelers unlock exclusive offers from participating Kind Hotels with a donation as little as $10 or more to a local charity that positively impacts the community they are visiting, or to another Kind Traveler approved charity of their choice. 100% of donations are given to the selected charity. Travelers also receive positive impact metrics with every booking to learn exactly how their travel dollars are supporting the local community, along with local neighborhood guides to inspire conscious travel and tree planting opportunities. For example, a $10 donation to Farm to Pantry in Sonoma County will provide 23 servings of produce for those facing food insecurity. In Monterey County, a $10 donation to Rancho Cielo Youth Campus will support 1/3 of the cost per day for a young person’s education. Listed below are the current participating destinations, hotels and charities. To learn more about joining the Kind Traveler platform through Visit California, visit the co-op page. Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board Hotels: Hotel Erwin, Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown, an IHG Hotel, Hotel Per La, Sonesta Los Angeles Airport LAX, The Garland; Impact Partners: Marine Mammal Care Center LA, Midnight Mission, spcaLA, Venice Family Clinic. Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau Hotels: Bernardus Lodge & Spa, Post Ranch Inn, The Sanctuary Beach Resort; Impact Partner: Rancho Cielo Youth Campus. North Lake Tahoe & Visit Lake Tahoe Hotels: PlumpJack Inn, The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa; Impact Partners: Take Care Tahoe, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism Hotels: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Hotel Casa Del Mar, Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites, Le Merigot Santa Monica Hotel, Pierside Hotel, Santa Monica Proper Hotel, Shutters on the Beach, The Ambrose Hotel Santa Monica, The Shore Hotel Santa Monica, Viceroy Santa Monica; Impact Partner: Santa MoniCARES. Sonoma County Tourism Hotels: The Lodge at Bodega Bay, The Stavrand; Additionally, The Stavrand, The Gables Wine Country Inn, Wildhaven Sonoma and are amongst the first hotels in California to enroll in Kind Traveler’s new community impact certification, Every Stay Gives Back (launching Feb. 2023). Impact Partners: Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary, Farm to Pantry, Pepperwood Preserve. Visit Greater Palm Springs Hotels: Azure Sky Hotel, Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, Miramonte Resort & Spa, The Good House. Impact Partners: Friends of the Desert Mountains, The LGBTQ+ Community Center of the Desert. Visit Oakland Hotels: Kissel Uptown Oakland - The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Moxy Oakland Downtown, Oakland Marriott City Center; Impact Partner: Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation. Additional hotels and charities throughout California include: Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Brannan Cottage Inn, Carneros Resort and Spa, Holbrooke Hotel, Hotel San Luis Obispo, North Block Hotel, The National Exchange; Impact Partners: Bear Yuba Land Trust, Napa Land Trust, Surfrider Foundation SLO Chapter.  

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