Last Thursday, members of the business community gathered for Visit Santa Barbara’s annual Travel Outlook presentation, a two-hour long mini-conference that gave a detailed look at the who, what, and whys of Santa Barbara’s tourism industry.
Santa Barbara County is in the middle of a renaissance, according to Kathy Janega-Dykes, president/CEO of VSB, who opened the event with an overview of the program as well as a summation of where S.B. stands currently regarding tourism. “There are 660 [hotel] rooms in the pipeline and more to come,” she said, “as well as new attractions and blossoming neighborhoods, which are really important to our visitors throughout the county…This year we are going to focus on further amplifying the American Riviera brand and bringing that to life in a way that really speaks to the evolving visitor demographic.”
Janega-Dykes then explained that VSB contracted market research firm Destination Analysts to do a year-long visitor profile study, which started in September 2016 and concluded in August 2017. Destination president and CEO, Erin Francis-Cummings then took the stage to give an overview of the comprehensive survey findings, the big takeaway being the stunning amount of visitor related spending injected into our county — $1.9 billion annually. Data showed that tourists spend an average of $430 per day, with the most favored activities being dining (71.7 percent), going to the beach (55.5 percent), and shopping (42.5 percent). Wine tasting has become increasingly popular, with more than one in 10 visitors sipping vino.
Although folks in town for the day represented the majority of tourists, three in 10 visitors stay overnight in hotels. Eighty-two percent of visitors come from the U.S., with the highest portion coming from the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County areas.