Travel Matters to California

By Dan Smith | 3 min

California’s tourism economy is growing every year, expanding visitor spending, tax revenue and employment opportunities. Industry stewards are working on ways to continue the growth while preserving and protecting the travelers’ experience.

It employs more workers than construction. It’s a bigger export than agriculture. Without it, every California household would pay $890 more in taxes each year.


The travel and tourism industry doesn’t just matter to California – it’s a huge economic engine that performs reliably year after year.


All of the key tourism metrics – spending by visitors, employment and tax revenue generation – have grown for nine years running.


More than 281.4 million visitors came to the Golden State in 2018 and spent more than $140 billion.


Local communities thrive on tourism dollars. In some counties, such as Mariposa, the gateway to Yosemite National Park, more than half the jobs are derived from tourism. There are more than 100 local tourism improvement districts working with industry to keep the tourism engine purring.


Part of the industry’s effort is aimed at sustainability: Visit California is working to re-imagine the tourism business and manage growth. A statewide assessment underway will provide a deeper understanding of the problem.


“We want travelers to have a great experience and we want them to come back,” says Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta. “But how is all this success we have shaping that experience? How can we simultaneously preserve, protect and promote the vacation experience here in California? Sustainability now must be at the heart of what we do.”

Californians would have an extra $820 in taxes without tourism
Over 273 million visitors came to CA in 2017
CA visitors spent over $130 billion in 2017