California's Tourism Economy Contributes $140.6 billion

California’s Tourism Economy Contributes $140.6 billion in Travel Spending and Support 1.16 million jobs

For the ninth consecutive year, California’s tourism economy flourished, contributing $140.6 billion in travel spending and supporting 1.16 million jobs across the Golden State.

The numbers released today in Visit California’s annual economic impact report highlight the industry’s critical role in supporting the world’s fifth-largest economy. 

The report, prepared by Dean Runyan Associates, found tourism spending grew 5.4 percent in 2018. California continues to experience year-to-year increases, spurring growth in industries touched by tourism, such as retail, food service, entertainment and the arts. This growth creates a ripple effect, supporting local economies across the state.

“Tourism continues to play an indispensable role in the California economy,” said Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. “In local communities, the tourism industry lifts up businesses and supports job opportunities vital to regional success.”

The report’s findings also illustrate tourism’s added value to California taxpayers. In 2018, tourism generated $11.8 billionin state and local tax revenue. This injection of tax dollars into local communities supports essential programs and services, such as public safety, parks, trails, roads and infrastructure. Without tourism, each Californian household would have to pay an additional $890 in taxes each year to make up the difference.

In an increasingly competitive global market, Visit California’s extensive marketing efforts keep California a top-of-mind travel destination for the world. Visit California oversees several customized campaigns that target audiences in the United States and 13 international markets including ChinaMexicoCanada and the United Kingdom. The report found that international visitors spent $28.3 billion while in California.

“Persistent marketing invigorates the potency of the California brand to travelers around the world. By inspiring new and returning visitors, we unlock the extraordinary potential of increased spending in the state,” said Beteta. “Our continued investment in these campaigns is a significant driver for our state’s success.” 

The release of the economic impact report coincides with California Tourism Month, which occurs every May following a resolution enacted by the Legislature in 2016. The release also syncs with the launch of Visit California’s Travel Matters website, which tells the story of tourism’s economic impact in California. This week, California also celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week, when destinations in the Golden State will join communities across the nation to host events that highlight and celebrate the importance of sustaining the travel industry.

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