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Navigating Crisis


Created out of crisis, Visit California’s statewide destination marketing programs have helped the industry shorten recovery windows and return to revenue growth following numerous natural and economic crises.    

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented hardship for the tourism industry, measured at nine times worse than the fallout from 9/11. Visit California applied its more than 25 years of lessons learned in crisis recovery to help navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic, maintain consumer awareness and ultimately prepare for marketing campaigns to help our industry rebound.    

Through it all, strong fiscal health has been a priority and we’re always working to ensure a maximum return on the industry’s investment by conserving revenue for critical recovery marketing programs needed to restore travel and tourism to businesses.  
Dan Gordon Sig
Dan Gordon
Chief Fiscal Officer, Visit California
Chief Executive Officer, Gordon Biersch


Fiscal Responsibility
Visit California strives to ensure the industry’s investment advances the purpose for which it was given: to do what the industry cannot do itself. As industry losses from the pandemic caused corresponding declines to Visit California's funding, the organization took urgent measures to conserve resources for recovery. Paid marketing and all international programs were paused; staff and operating overhead were cut. This ensured that the organization can continue to allocate a full 88% of its budget directly to marketing California as a travel destination.

fiscal responsibility breakdown
Visit California maintains a low operating budget to allow the maximum investment in marketing programs that benefit the industry.

Mindful Marketing
Visit California canceled planned marketing programs in response to the pandemic and pivoted its marketing to prioritize brand-inspired content across its owned channels. The organization promoted safety with reliable information about the unfolding crisis and its impact on travel and provided inspirational content to keep California top of mind when travel resumed.


Michelin chef'Thank You for Dreaming'
The social media video expresses gratitude for front-line workers in health care, food service and hospitality with inspirational moments from around the Golden State.

Video Views

Michelin chef'Dream With Us'
This widely shared montage of the Golden State’s breathtaking natural vistas offers respite from pandemic-induced hardships and encourages visitors to Dream Big about future California adventures.

Video Views

Michelin chef#CATakeoutTuesday
This social media campaign supported local restaurants by encouraging Californians to order takeout from their favorite restaurants during dine-in closure.

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Raising Industry Relevance
Visit California succeeded in spreading the word about this simple truth: The state’s economy won’t fully recover until the travel industry rebounds.

Public Affairs
Longstanding relationships and dogged persistence kept the state's top policy makers engaged and ensured industry had a strong voice in recovery.

  • Coordinated with Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, California Office of Emergency Services to facilitate closures and provide facts to tourism businesses as the shelter-in-place orders were implemented.
  • Participated in Gov. Newsom’s Task Force subgroup on hospitality to emphasize the importance of the tourism industry to lead economic recovery.
  • Led discussion with the governor, lieutenant governor and lawmakers to urge the safe reopening of the tourism economy.


Michelin chefCalifornia Tourism Month
Visit California’s month-long campaign reminded Californians of the importance of travel and tourism. Media coverage by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other prominent outlets highlighted the millions of residents who rely on tourism for their livelihood and the industry’s ongoing activities amid the pandemic that are helping the state recover. The campaign flowed from months of foundational travel matters messaging, including a well-received series of articles and videos showcasing the diversity and successes of the industry’s workforce.

Social Media Shares

industry resources page, coronavirus

Industry Resources
A compilation of current resources on the pandemic and industry’s recovery are housed on the industry website, shared in twice-weekly emails and delivered across a statewide virtual speaking tour. Resources include talking points, business guidance, toolkits and research insights on projected economic impacts, consumer sentiment and implications of the health crisis for the tourism industry.

Email Open Rate
Weekly Email Recipients
Resource Page Views

Shaping Recovery
As the pandemic began impacting the tourism industry leaving waves of uncertainty, Visit California quickly pivoted from actively encouraging travel to keeping California top of mind with future visitors — with a minimal marketing spend. Traditional advertising took a backseat to creative earned media angles encouraging virtual “armchair” travel and future bookings while digital owned channels debuted new inspirational videos and articles to keep California top of mind. Meanwhile, with international travel halted, travel trade pivoted efforts to reach a domestic trade audience, launching efforts to reach this untapped audience through a debut newsletter series and development of the CA STAR platform for domestic trade professionals.


See You Soon'See You Soon'
A digital series of light-hearted shorts had destinations representing all 12 California tourism regions building anticipation with future visitors.

Video Views


Responsible Travel Code
Just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic made landfall in the U.S., Visit California published a draft Destination Stewardship and Sustainable Travel Plan, a key step in the ongoing effort to establish California as a leader in sustainable tourism.

While the tourism landscape vastly changed because of the pandemic, the need to preserve California did not. Launched in June, the California Responsible Travel Code provides a framework for responsible travel within the Golden State. The code lives on the Responsible Travel Hub, a repository of advisories, best practices and inspiration to inspire confidence in California travel during the pandemic. Visit California’s earned media team pitched the code to media and influencers, creating a buzz – especially amongst in-state media, as this ABC 10 piece illustrates. Overall, the code generated 70+ media placements and more than 185 million impressions.

travel code