California’s investment in tourism marketing has been paying off, yielding a record $17.1 billion return on advertising spending in 2021, according to Visit California.
While the state’s tourism industry is outpacing travel spending forecasts, it has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. That is forecasted to change in 2023, when industry experts expect California’s tourism sector to see a complete economic recovery.
Tourism in 2021
Last year, California’s tourism industry professionals and organizations worked diligently to inspire travel, holding trade shows, international missions, and facilitating in-person meetings. Gateway cities, Visit California says, experienced a steeper uphill climb due to slower recovery of international visitation, and professional meetings and events.
The tourism sector took in $100.2 billion in visitor spending in 2021, which was an increase of 46.3% over 2020. This contributed to $9.8 billion in state and local tax revenue, and supported 927,100 jobs.
California’s top international market was Mexico, welcoming 3.7 million visitors (both via land and air) who spent $2 billion and comprised 44% of the spending market share. With many international restrictions still in place for much of 2021, the remaining top markets to California were Canada (310,241 visitors, $484 million spending), Middle East (137,052 visitors, $428 million spending) and India (102,768 visitors, $298 million spending).