California Reports Record High Spending Through Tourism

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 06, 2024

Financial spending from the tourism industry in California has hit new heights this year.

Travel officials have recorded an unprecedented $150.5 billion in tourism revenue, mostly due to foreign visitors.

California Tourism Is Thriving

The Golden State experienced a massive slump in tourism and home sales since the Covid-19 pandemic swept through in 2020.

A view of the Los Angeles skyline during an orange sunset next to a row of palm trees

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However, the state is back to experiencing a boom within their economy in 2024, with much of the spending due to tourism.

Residents Moving Back to the Sunny Paradise

California officials have recorded that for the first time since 2021 their population has increased, which shows a renewed interest in the area. 

An aerial view of a small neighborhood with quant houses, palm trees, and phone lines

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Many residents who left cited outrageous rent prices, low wages, and high crime rates as reasons for leaving the state.

Tourism Providing Much Needed Business Boost

Thanks to the thriving tourism sector in the state, businesses are receiving much needed business which enables them to hire more employees and add further benefits to the economy. 

A sunset against a beach area with a sign for Venice beach

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Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, said that the state is experiencing a much needed boost to the economy. Travel has been a cornerstone of the job sector for decades and it’s empowering to see that the state can recover from previous challenges.

Certain Areas Are Not Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Areas in southern California like Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego saw record levels of visitors in just the first few months of the year. Big music festivals like Coachella, held just outside of Palm Springs, brings in roughly $1.5 billion to the local economy. 

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However, San Francisco has yet to see tourism return to pre-pandemic levels. Visitors might be forgoing a visit to the bay area due to the increased incidents of crime in the area.

Foreign Spending Peaked in 2018

The California groups responsible for boosting tourism in the state said that foreign travelers added about $24.3 billion to their economy in just 2023.

People walking around and sitting on the grass in San Francisco.

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Although the peak was recorded in 2018 at $28.6 billion, domestic tourism spending also accounted for a huge amount of revenue in the state.


Tourism Revenue Saves Household Taxes

The state acknowledged that the much needed boost to their tourism sector added a cash infusion to taxes, which relieved stress on residents. 

An aerial view of homes on the side of a mountain surrounded by trees next to a blue ocean

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On average, each household saved about $966 in taxes thanks to the added revenue brought by travel and tourism.


Growth Economy Thanks To Travel

The economy has also experienced a major push in recent months. More than 64,900 jobs were added in California during the past year.

A yellow and red sign for In N Out burger

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Most of those positions are directly related to the tourism and hospitality business. California has long been known for their excellent food, drink, and hospitality industry and many people search for excellent experiences.


Gov. Gavin Newsome Excited About the Boost

California Governor Gavin Newsom has also added to the excitement of record breaking tourism numbers in his state.

A man wearing aviator sun glasses and a white linnen shirt stands in front of a large mountain

Source: @CaliforniaGlobe/X

He rejoiced over the 150 billion dollars added to the economy while on top of the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday.


More Travel Needed To Be Directed to Northern California

Although some tourists can be nervous to visit San Francisco or the bay area due to recent reports of car break-ins, local officials say that they need to dispel the rumors to bring in more tax revenue.

A view of a large dock with buildings looking over the ocean

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In February, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that car break ins are down from recent months thanks to updated police efforts.


Business Owners in SF’s Fisherman Wharf Unhappy With Progress

Many local fishmongers and business owners at the legendary Fisherman’s Wharf have yet to see an improvement in tourism.

A silver statue of a fisherman holding lobster cages on a dock in front of large fishing boats

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Local Peter Demarest, who works as the GM at The Franciscan Crab Restaurant, said that their business is still down 40-50 percent from pre-pandemic levels.


Plans To Revitalize the Bay Area

California tourism boards say that they have big plans to revitalize the tourism efforts in the Bay area.

The Golden Gate Bridge in California

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This week a large Cybersecurity conference is scheduled at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.