Tourism is of course, vitally important to the Californian economy. For anyone outside the US who’s come across those expensive, well produced adverts often on prime time TV slots, you can sense that’s it’s big business. However the numbers can be quite staggering even when forewarned, a report published last week suggested that tourists in California spent well over $100 billion dollars in 2013 alone.
The exact figure is estimated to be around $110 billion which represents a significant growth of 3%. That figure doesn’t sound great in isolation but taken in the context of global recession and wide spread austerity measures in many of California’s traditional tourist sources then it’s a very respectable boost. There’s no doubt that compared with other industry sectors, tourism is the one still performing with more significant growth levels predicted over the next few years. It’s not surprising in many ways, California is a terrific holiday destination for both non-US and US visitors. Tourism is also a great sector to be in when global economic problems can hit, it’s very flexible as we see when Europe is struggling, then you can easily switch focus to attract visitors from other areas either in the short or long term. This flexibility is something that Visit California team is very well aware of and they actively promote the Californian tourist brand in many countries around the world on an ongoing basis.
So how many people visited California? Well the official figures put the level at 235 million people, about 3/4 of these in-state tourists. The demand for hotel rooms across the state however has increased every quarter for the last four years. Many visitors base their holidays on the capital region, often using this as a hub to explore the rest of the state. Sacramento Country actually received nearly $3 billion in direct spending by visitors. More than half of these stay overnight, although this is not all attributable to tourism, 6 million were tourists and about 1.2 million people were visiting for business reasons.
There are encouraging signs that the traditional market for tourism for California – Europe is starting to recover. California has always been a favorite for visitors from places like the UK, France and Germany. However problems in the Eurozone have impacted the numbers of visitors from those areas. The recovery is growing strongly in the UK though and the high value of the British currency currently is making California an affordable destination again. There are also a significant number of people from the UK who are spending much longer than traditional breaks with many investing in holiday homes and apartments in the area attracted by the climate. There are other obvious benefits to the UK market, language, infrastructure and cheap flights from the UK and it’s easy to watch UK TV stations online – as this site demonstrates watch the BBC – http://www.iplayerusa.org
This familiarity and ease of access, makes California a very attractive locations as well for UK tourists particularly those who have retired and have more time for the longer air travel times. No language problems, good value and that the link with home can be established by simply using the internet and a few bucks to buy vpn services to watch their usual TV shows from sites like the BBC and ITV all help boost the attraction California to British tourists.