Tourism in Santa Barbara is up 31 percent, the future looks stunningly bright, attracting millennials will be key to sustaining growth, and the Goleta Valley will henceforth refer to itself as the “Goleta Coast.” Such were the highlights of Monday morning’s 2015 Travel Outlook, a breakfast gathering put on annually by the Visit Santa Barbara tourism board.
Peter Yesawich, of MMGY Global, delivered the morning’s most interesting talk, explaining how the tourism industry must continue to accommodate the 77 million boomers while also preparing for the 82 million travel-happy millennials. Since the Great Recession, Yesawich explained, “We have never seen a more positive outlook,” yet he warned that people were now interested in “the new frugal” and want to feel like they’re getting deals.
That was followed by a panel with heads of Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, and the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, whose executive director Kristen Miller revealed that, as the result of a marketing study, “We’re going to be bold and refer to ourselves as the Goleta Coast.”
The final offering was a discussion on growing occupancy rates and other trends between Tom Patton of the Ramada Limited Santa Barbara and Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting, who said that the trend of less flights to the Santa Barbara Airport is “somewhat disturbing” and that there is “certainly opportunities for new hotels” in the Santa Ynez Valley, especially near Lompoc.