Santa Monica kicked off National Tourism Week by hosting the Santa Monica Travel and Tourism Summit on May 7 at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The conference unveiled the economic impact of tourism and the economic outlook for the City as it relates to travel and tourism.
Among the key speakers were Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of the California Travel and Tourism Commission, Lauren Schlau, principal of Lauren Schlau Consulting, and Jeffry Lugosi, MAI, senior vice president at PKF Consulting.
“[The conference] was a great way for Santa Monica to share the importance of the travel and tourism industry as it relates to our local, state, and even national economy.” said Misti Kerns, president and CEO of Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB). “Tourism activity supports nearly 12,000 jobs in Santa Monica alone, and brings in over one-billion dollars to the city, which helps Santa Monica continue to thrive.”
During the summit, the results of the 2009 Santa Monica Tourism Economic Impact Study, conducted triennially since 1983 by Lauren Schlau Consulting and CIC Research, Inc., were presented. The study revealed that despite the 2008-2009 recession, Santa Monica’s travel industry remained strong. Annual visitor volume reached a record 6.3 million visitors, a 13.5 percent leap from 2006/07. International visitor volume grew to 3.0 million, a 12 percent rise, while U.S. resident visitation increased to 3.3 million, nearly 15 percent greater than 2006/07. While U.S. travel exceeded international volume, international spending in Santa Monica was higher than U.S. visitor spending, at $602 million vs. $553 million, respectively. Given the growth in volume, travel and tourism activity generated $34 million to the City in hotel and retail sales taxes and supported 11,800 jobs in 2009.
Among the top international travel markets, were the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, with California, New York and Arizona representing the top three domestic cities of origin.
Also among the findings was that the average length of stay for all visitors increased by 6.2 percent, and among the top visitor spending categories were lodging, meals, beverages, and shopping, comprising over 80 percent of the total spending in Santa Monica. The study also found that inter-California travel to Santa Monica increased by 1 percent and of those travelers, overnight stay increased by 5 percent, and first-time visitors increased by 6 percent since 2006/07.
In addition to the summit, SMCVB honored National Tourism Week by participating in the state-wide California Travel and Tourism Commission “SpendTom!” program, which aims to track two-dollar bills from their city of origin throughout the world as they are spent, to show the scope and economic impact of tourism. Over $4,000 in two-dollar bills will be distributed as change by participating local businesses in Santa Monica alone. Those who receive a two-dollar bill as change are invited to go to SpendTom.com and register their bill, telling California where they received the bill and how they spent it.
SMCVB also launched the “Santa Monica Snapshots Photo Contest,” encouraging people from around the world to submit original photographs of their favorite Santa Monica location in the beachside city. The winner will be announced by May 24, 2010 and will win a two-night stay at the Holiday Inn Santa Monica Beach hotel. More information on the contest can be found at Facebook.com/VisitSantaMonica.
Santa Monica Mirrorstaff@smmirror.com