Tourism Sector Up: Visitors Spend Record $140 Billion on Travel in California

For the ninth year in a row, California’s travel and tourism economy surged, adding $79 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Visit California’s Economic Impact of Travel in California report for 2018 shows that visitors spent more than $140 billion in the state on travel, a 5.4% increase from 2017. The travel and tourism sector also added more than 19,000 new jobs, pushing employment in the industry to 1.2 million jobs statewide.

Travel and tourism plays a major role in California’s economy. The industry is represented by accommodations, transportation and rental cars, restaurants, retail stores, attractions, gasoline service stations, and other businesses that serve travelers. All of the state’s tourism providers benefited from increased visitation in 2018, with direct traveler spending supporting all industry segments in all regions of the state.

Increased travel spending is leading to more than $4 billion in annual investments in theme park, restaurant and other tourism-related infrastructure. These projects create secondary employment effects, generating jobs in building and construction.

Not only does tourism support the state’s economy, the industry is a boon for city and county budgets. Last year, visitor spending generated $11.8 billion in tax revenue for state and local jurisdictions, and was among the top three sources of funding for many counties. This revenue helps fund vital programs and infrastructure projects, and saves California households an additional $890 in taxes each year to maintain state and local services, according to Visit California.

To read Visit California’s Economic Impact of Travel in California report, visit

The California Chamber of Commerce is the largest, broad-based business advocate to government in California, working at the state and federal levels to influence government actions affecting all California business. As a not-for-profit, we leverage our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations to provide affordable and easy-to-use compliance products and services.