Economic Impact of Travel in California 2010-2019

Authored by Dean Runyan Associates, Inc.

Impact Report
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(Date Of Publication: May 04, 2020)

California travel impacts by state, region and county from 2010 to 2019.

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.

The 2019 figures do not reflect major economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on 2020 visitor spending and tourism employment. A report from Tourism Economics projects those impacts on California.


  • Direct travel-related spending in California totaled $144.9 billion in 2019 a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year.
  • Direct travel-generated employment neared 1.2 million, a 1.1 percent increase over 2018.
  • Travel-generated state and local tax revenue was $12.2 billion in 2019, an increase of 3.4 percent over the preceding year.
  • Visitor arrivals on domestic flights increased by 2.9 percent.
  • Lodging rooms sold increased by 1.1 percent for the year.
  • $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 $84.6 billion in 2019, 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 2019 with direct traveler spending supporting all industry segments in all regions of the state.


Travel-related spending in 2019 supported 1.18 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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