Santa Monica recorded a record 6.47 million visitors in 2010, a 2.1 percent increase from the previous year, according to a new tourism market summary report released by the Santa Monica Conference and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB).
Financially, this equates to a total annual visitor spending increase of 3.4 percent from $1.155 billion in 2009 to $1.195 billion spent within the city in 2010.
The top five indicators revealed shopping/gifts collected $361 million, hotels collected $245 million, meals collected $242 million, beverages collected $113 million, and activities collected $70 million during 2010. The per-capital daily visitor spending was up 2.6 percent from the previous year to $121.56.
While the Horizon Consumer Science and CIC Research, Inc. report only compared 2010 versus 2009, SMCVB President/CEO Misti Kerns said this year was looking even more promising.
For August 2011, Kerns said Santa Monica hotels ran at 92.42 per cent occupancy (a 0.8 percent increase from August 2010) with an average nightly rate of a hotel room at $325.84 (a 10.3 percent increase from August 2010).
“We’ve been lucky in the market place of retaining occupancy, whereas in a lot of other arenas, they haven’t been able to do that,” Kerns said. “Overall we have good product in the area, we’ve got a very solid experience that people are aware of, and our hotels worked really hard to make sure they weren’t losing the customer who wasn’t willing to pay that rate at the time.”
For 2010, international visitors (3,397,400) were up 12 percent on the previous year, which equates to 52.5 percent ratio versus U.S. domestic visitors.
Kerns said international visitors were the right recipe for Santa Monica as a destination.
“They certainly spend much higher and they tend to use public transportation, which is the absolute way to get around our community,” she said. “They become critically important to us in the diversity that we offer of the experience of Santa Monica too. It’s cool and nice to go out and hear all of those other languages whether you’re shopping down on Third Street Promenade or you’re over at Bergamot Station.”
Kerns said she would like to see the number of international visitors to account for 60 to 65 percent of Santa Monica’s visitors, but there had to be a balance.
“There is also the dynamic of the increase in room rates,” she said. “An international traveler isn’t always as interested in paying a higher rate because it often shortens the length of stay.”
Of the 6.47 million visitors to Santa Monica in 2010, the break-down in the report showed 565,000 stayed in a hotel/motel, about 226,000 stayed in a private residence while the remaining 5.675 million were day visitors.
Other notable overall Santa Monica visitor activity indicators revealed that hotel tax revenue to the city increased from $27.8 million in 2009 to $30.1 million in 2010. Santa Monica jobs supported by tourism also increased from 9,725 in 2009 to 10,080 in 2010.
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