Economic Impact of Travel in California 2010-2018p

Authored by Dean Runyan Associates, Inc.

Impact Report
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(Date Of Publication: July 07, 2019)

California travel impacts by state, region and county from 2010 to 2018.

These economic impacts are based on "statewide visitor trips," which are defined as trips taken by individuals who stay overnight away from home, or travel more than 50 miles one way on a non-routine trip. This definition of a visitor is derived from the California Tourism Marketing Act. Some destinations in California calculate visitation and economic impacts using different definitions of visitors and different data-gathering methods, so figures may not match.


  • Direct travel-related spending in California totaled $140.6 billion in 2018, a 5.4 percent increase from the previous year.
  • Direct travel-generated employment neared 1.2 million, a 1.7 percent increase over 2017.
  • Travel-generated tax revenue topped $11.8 billion.
  • Room demand increased by 2.0 percent.
  • Visitor arrivals on domestic flights increased by 7.3 percent.
  • $6 out of $10 spent at local visitor destinations were attributable to residents of other states and countries.
  • The GDP of the California travel industry was $79 billion in 2018, which represents about 2.5 percent of the total GDP of the state.

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*In-state travel includes local transportation and gas, visitor air transportation and other travel.

California’s travel and tourism industry is represented by accommodations, transportation and rental cars, restaurants, retail stores, attractions, gasoline service stations, and other businesses that serve travelers. All of the state's tourism providers benefited from increased visitation in 2018 with direct traveler spending supporting all industry segments in all regions of the state.


Travel-related spending in 2018 supported 1.16 million jobs statewide. Direct impacts represent earnings attributable to travel expenditures made directly by travelers at businesses across the state, while indirect impacts are from earnings associated with industries that supply goods and services to tourism businesses.

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