Travel to and within California continued to exceed expectations through the summer as all indicators remained positive, according to Visit California.
- Hotel occupancy throughout the state was up 5.6% through August, with a 4% year over year increase for the month of August and ever more optimistic preliminary figures for September.
- Overseas arrivals were up 14.3% through June- though month of June numbers were up to a lesser degree (7%).
- Traffic at California’s welcome centers was up 10% through August, with month of August numbers up nearly 30%.
- Domestic air traffic, though the lowest performing of indicators, was positive as well with YTD figures up 2% and month of July figures up 3% year over year.
The positive numbers have been good for travel related businesses throughout the state. The Leisure & Hospitality category gained 35,800 jobs between August, 2010 and August, 2011, a 2.4% increase. In comparison, total non-farm jobs gained just half that proportion (+1.2%), highlighting the importance of travel in our slowly recovering economy.
In terms of outlook, however, it looks like lingering high unemployment and barely growing personal consumption will finally have a toll on travel. In the October Travel Horizons survey of US adults, just 52% of those surveyed indicated they planned to travel for leisure in the next six months, the lowest proportion in over five years of October surveying.
As a silver lining, though, consumers indicated that their outlook for travel spending was a bit better than in the past six months, a sign that travel remains a priority for discretionary spending.
Visit California is the new business name for the California Travel & Tourism Commission.