By Misti Kerns
President/CEO Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau
It’s no secret that tourism provides a viable and sustainable economy in Santa Monica. In 2011, more than 10,000 people were supported directly from tourism in jobs that cannot be exported. These employees and our community welcomed more than 6.5 million visitors from outside of LA County, who generated more than $1.2 billion to our local economy.
The economic benefits from tourism reach every Santa Monica resident, saving each household more than $809 in taxes that fund street improvements, police and fire departments, parks and community programs; providing an amazing destination for all of us to enjoy!
Tourism remains strong and our city continues to invest in the future with a variety of development projects that will enhance the resident and visitor experience. Through strategic partnerships, careful planning and Santa Monica hotels’ aggressive rate management, our destination has rebounded from the recession quickly with an average hotel occupancy rate of 86 percent, the highest in LA County and our retail and culinary partners are finally seeing growth as well.
Santa Monica has strived for a balanced visitor base divided between domestic and international travelers and benefits from carefully managed events annually that occur during our off season including Independent Sprit Awards, Rose Bowl events, Los Angeles Marathon, Northern Trust Open, and the American Film Market (AFM).
Santa Monica looks to increase our international visitors, who spend more, stay in the destination longer, and use public transportation. In April, Santa Monica will have the opportunity to engage with tour operators and travel media from more than 70 different countries at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow in Los Angeles. Additionally, top retail buyers will experience our destination first hand during “Shop America,” an exclusive event sponsored in partnership with Santa Monica CVB, Santa Monica Place, Downtown Santa Monica Inc. Gray Line Tours, American Express and U.S. Travel Association.
How important is international travel?
Last month, President Obama announced a national strategy to boost travel and tourism to the U.S., emphasizing the fact that tourism is a critical component of job creation.
Santa Monica CVB is working closely with public and private leaders to assist with the visa reform program and the development of this new plan and will proactively invest in opportunities that will enhance Santa Monica tourism and ensure a successful and sustainable future for our community.