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CEO Update: Peak Momentum

By Caroline Beteta 05/28/2018

Following a year of big challenges and even bigger triumphs, California’s travel and tourism industry is flying into the next fiscal year with the wind at our backs.

This May, Visit California’s Board of Directors gathered to set the course for the next two years and beyond by ending FY17/18 on a high note — quite literally — in the breathtaking mountains of Squaw Valley.

The Tahoe region is uniquely representative of all that makes the Golden State’s tourism product so exceptional: The diversity of climate and geography; the wealth of world-class amenities complementing the outdoor experience; the fact that in a matter of hours, one can travel from the slopes to the surf with little more than a change of wardrobe standing in the way.

Still, even with so much to offer, the fundamental truth remains the same: Tourism doesn’t just happen; we must make it happen.

At the Spring Board Meeting, the Board took actions to fulfill that directive with approval of Visit California’s new FY18-20 Marketing Work Plan. This sets in motion a number of exciting global initiatives that will continue to propel California tourism forward in advance of the 2019 referendum.

Welcoming new leadership. Visit California welcomed Evans Hotels President and CEO Robert Gleason to the Board following unanimous confirmation in February. In addition, the Governor reappointed three Board Members to new terms: Fat Family Restaurant Group Chief Operating Officer Kevin Fat; Grapeline Wine Tours Founder John Kelliher; and Benjamin Webster, Littler Medelson PC office managing shareholder.

Eighth year of growth. It’s been two years since the California Legislature voted to establish May as California Tourism Month, providing a platform from which to share the “Why Travel Matters” message. Visit California timed the release of its annual 2017 Economic Impact Report to coincide with the monthlong celebration of tourism.

In 2017, travel spending in California generated a record $132.4 billion – spending that powered $10.9 billion in state and local tax revenue while supporting 1.1 million jobs in an eighth straight year of growth for the industry.

Content evolutions. Visit California announced the launch of multiple content evolutions and new platforms, including an all-new, family-focused series “Adventures in Kidifornia” on Dream365TV. The team also celebrated the launch of its first-of-its-kind destination platform, the “California Now Podcast,” which is available now on iTunes.

Global spotlight. With the Royal Wedding just days away, Visit California’s global activations took center stage. To leverage the spotlight on the soon-to-be California princess, Visit California deployed custom owned content and itineraries to help consumers experience the state “like a royal” and supported those efforts with tailored trade activations around the globe and at IPW 2018 in Denver.

Strategic partnerships with top trade organizations and airlines – including Norwegian, Aeromexico, Ctrip and Virtuoso – fueled a record airlift increase to more than 112,000 daily flights to California. These partnerships and the PR activations around them will continue to foster more international travelers – who spent $26.5 billion in 2017 – charting courses to the Golden State.

Despite the substantial challenges we have faced during some truly trying months, tourism continues to grow and remains the economic engine of California. It is a testament to the strength of this united community that enable us to pursue greater goals in the year ahead.

Let’s continue to show the world what it means to Dream Big!

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