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U.S. Market Profile

California remains the No. 1 travel destination domestically. The Golden State’s abundance and distinct laid-back culture are appealing to both in-state and out-of-state travelers, with more than three-fourths of total visitors to California hailing from domestic points of origin. While current political realities have had different effects on audiences in different states, California remains a haven for innovation and a beacon for the country, fueling strong domestic travel growth year over year. Data updated as of February 2020.

Market Profile

$116.941 Billion
Preliminary Visitor Spending, 2019
$136.826 Billion*
Forecasted Visitor Spending, 2023
*Reflects pre-coronavirus forecast.
Market Share (U.S. Spend), 2018

Travel & Planning

Short Haul Markets (WA, OR, NV, AZ, UT, CO)

  • 4 average length of stay (California nights)
  • $950 per trip spend
  • 38% travel with children

Long Haul Markets

  • 5.1 average length of stay (California nights)
  • $1,540 per trip spend
  • 35% travel with children

Visitor Characteristics

Sought-After Travel Experiences

  • Wellness: travelers are seeking a sense of wellness when they travel whether that means time spent in nature or a chance to unplug and disconnect.
  • Expanded Culture: as travelers increasingly crave experiences over product, the definition of “culture” has expanded beyond museums and historical destinations to includes an opportunity for local and immersive experiences.
  • Responsible Travel: although concerns about sustainability have garnered more attention in Europe, U.S. travelers are increasingly thinking about their travel impacts.

Market Conditions

Economic conditions in the U.S. remain stable. Positive economic indicators include high employment rates, rising personal incomes, and high savings rates combined with low inflation. Trade tensions with China have lowered US GDP with hits to the manufacturing sector, but the largest contribution to GDP is consumer spending which remains strong. Looking ahead, growth of 1.6 to 1.8% is expected through 2022.

Competitive Landscape

California is the top U.S. travel destination for both domestic and international travel. California’s increase in share of visitor spending corresponds to a growing competitive advantage California has had in U.S. media spend as states such as Texas, Michigan and Florida were forced to cut their media spend dramatically in the past years due to state budget cuts. Visitor air travel on domestic flights to California destinations (41.9 million) increased by 7.3% in 2018. During the past three years, visitor arrivals on domestic flights have increased at 4.4% per year.

California will have competitive advantages in the next year in terms of media spend due to budget cuts among several top U.S. states. Additionally, many Western states that are important short-haul drive markets for California (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington) have enjoyed the highest rates of job and income growth in the nation in 2019, creating an opportunity for increased travel to California.

California has to proactively counter negative perceptions that have gained greater media attention in the past year, related to the impacts of wildfires as well as preventative power shutoffs, problems of homelessness, as well as affordability.


  • Tourism Economics
  • Omnitrak Group