Visit Santa Barbara to Support New Southwest Airlines Routes with Major Investment

Santa Barbara, Calif. (January 21, 2021)  Southwest Airlines announced routes for its new service to Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) today. The new routes are bookable now and include three daily flights to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (LAS), one daily flight to Denver International Airport (DEN) and one daily flight to Oakland International Airport (OAK), with flights beginning April 12, 2021. Those cities offer connections to more than 50 cities in Southwest’s vast network. 

“The arrival of Southwest Airlines’ new flights in the spring will boost economic activity for our much-beleaguered community, from our hard-hit hotels to restaurants and mom-and-pop shops,” said Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes. “Following a prolonged downturn in tourism due to the pandemic, they are a bright spot on the horizon.” 

The new flights from the popular airline will begin service to Santa Barbara at a time when restrictions on travel are expected to have lifted and vaccines will be more widespread, restoring consumer confidence in air travel. 

Visit Santa Barbara (VSB) played a key role in securing Southwest Airlines’ arrival in the region. In partnership with Santa Barbara Airport and elected officials from the city of Santa Barbara, VSB courted the airlines over more than five years, participating in meetings at its Dallas headquarters and aviation tradeshows. In November 2020, VSB underwrote a site visit for Southwest Airlines executives that showcased the Santa Barbara South Coast, in conjunction with SBA and local businesses, which helped cement the deal. 

Moving forward, Visit Santa Barbara will be contributing a quarter-million dollars to support the new Southwest flights, including a suite of marketing campaigns to attract visitors in each of the cities on the routes announced.  

“Visit Santa Barbara is making a significant investment in this service because we are determined for it to be successful,” Janega-Dykes added. “We want to give the new flights the best chance of remaining in market, and by extension, support our local workforce so that they can recover.”  

According to Destination Analysts Inc., an independent research firm, air passengers stay in the region longer than those who arrive by car or train and typically spend more per day in the community. 

While VSB may be best known to locals for its highly visible social media channels and website (, it also works on long-term destination development initiatives, such as air service development, that support tourism in the region. During the stay-at-home orders that have restricted travel, the nonprofit group quickly shifted to promoting takeout and pickup options for locals at restaurants, wineries and more, as well as activities that could be done from home, such as online shopping. It also continued to engage travel and meetings professionals in order to secure future bookings to the destination after travel restrictions have lifted. 


Visit Santa Barbara is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization jointly funded by the City of Santa Barbara, County of Santa Barbara, South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District and a membership of hospitality busi­nesses. Its mission is to inspire overnight travel to the Santa Barbara South Coast in order to enhance the community’s economy and quality of life. VSB’s primary vehicles are tourism marketing, PR and sales channels that lead to overnight bookings, increase business and tax revenue, and support jobs. Annual spending by travelers to the South Coast totals more than $1.9 billion, supporting more than 13,000 jobs and generating more than $56 million in yearly tax revenue, according to Destination Analysts Inc., a tourism market research firm. 


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