Tourism Spending in California Reaches Record High

Travel spending in California reached a new record in 2023 as visitors from around the world flocked to the Golden State.

According to a new report released by Visit California, the state’s tourism economy generated $150.4 billion in travel spending last year, surpassing the prior record $144.9 billion spent in 2019 before the pandemic halted travel. Tourism created 64,900 new jobs in California in 2023, bringing total industry employment to 1.15 million (98% of pre-pandemic employment levels).

Tourism Continues to Benefit Local Economies

The resurgence of travel in California continues to drive the growth of local economies throughout the state. Travel spending exceeded 2019 levels in 34 of California’s 58 counties.

Three of California’s four international gateways—San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties—exceeded 2019 travel spending levels, while San Francisco was near recovery at a level of more than 97%.

In addition to visitor spending and jobs, the tourism industry provided $12.7 billion in tax revenue to support public services at the state and local levels.

International visitors spent $24.3 billion in California in 2023, a 38% increase over 2022, but still 15% below the $28.6 billion peak in 2018.

International travel to California is forecast to return to 2019 levels sometime this year.

Paving the Path Toward a Resilient and Sustainable Future

To continue driving responsible growth while guiding the industry toward a more resilient and sustainable future, California will release comprehensive regional strategic tourism plans in late 2023.

Distinct plans for each of California’s 12 tourism regions will provide an actionable roadmap for the responsible development of tourism in the state over the next decade.

These regional plans will examine the full range of tourism issues—including workforce development, environmental challenges, infrastructure needs and destination brand perceptions—to inform business decisions and inspire partnerships with local governments and nonprofits aimed at building a more sustainable future for the industry.

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