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Economic Impact of Travel in California 2012-2021

Authored by Dean Runyan Associates, Inc.

Impact Report (PDF)
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(Date Of Publication: April 29, 2022)

California travel impacts in Total, and by region and county from 2012 to 2021.

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.


  • In 2021, the California travel economy was still recovering after the fall from the peak year of 2019. Strong demand for overnight accommodations and increased commodity prices led to large gains in visitor spending.
  • Direct travel-related spending in California grew to $100.2 billion in 2021, a 46.3 percent increase from the previous year. Compared to the peak of 2019, travel spending was down 30.9 percent in 2021.
  • The travel industry supported approximately 927 thousand jobs in 2021, a 6.4 percent increase from the prior year. Compared to 2019, travel industry employment is down 21.2 percent.
  • Travel-generated tax revenue increased to $15.0 billion in 2021, an increase of 23.1% from the prior year. Compared to 2019, travel-generated tax revenue is down 25.4 percent.
  • Visitor air travel on domestic flights to California destinations increased by 57% in 2021, from 14.1 million to 22.1 million arrivals.
  • Visitors who stayed in a Hotel, Motel, or STVR spent $52.4 billion in 2021, an increase of 44.0%. Visitors who stayed in a Private Home with friends and relatives spent $17.0 billion in 2021, an increase of 136.1%.

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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. Traveler spending benefits tourism providers across all industry segments and across all of California's regions.


Travel-related spending in 2021 supported 927.1 thousand 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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