Travel spending is up in the Temecula Valley, Riverside County


The Temecula Valley last year earned $724 million in visitor spending, a 2.5 percent increase over 2016 and the eighth consecutive increase in a decade.

That statistic and others were revealed as part of a 2017 Travel Impacts Report that was presented last week for the Visit Temecula Valley State of Tourism at South Coast Winery.

The report was given at the very end of the event following a series of presentations that focused on everything from the state of the hotel industry to what’s being done to attract more tourism.

Outlook on the state level

John Kelliher, a vice chairman of the Visit Temecula Valley board and a commissioner for Visit California, led a presentation on what Visit California does to attract visitors and why that matters for the Temecula Valley.

Kelliher said tourism in California is booming and that in 2017 total travel related spending in the state increased 4.8 percent to more than $132 billion, an amount big enough to cover the state’s general fund for a year.

He said Visit California’s job was to attract tourists from throughout the country and the world to visit and spend their dollars.

“If all the potential tourism customers in the world are part of an ocean, then Visit California’s job is to entice as many of those fish up that river called California Tourism as possible,” Kelliher said.

He said to think of Visit Temecula Valley as a tributary to that river and said the Temecula Valley and its businesses ultimately benefit from that broader effort to bring visitors to the state.

A lot of Visit California’s marketing has been done overseas, with Kelliher noting that the organization markets to 13 international countries which provide 87 percent of California’s international visitors.

He said Visit California has been aggressive marketing to emerging markets such as India and the Middle East.

“India is without a doubt the number one future opportunity market for California tourism,” he said. “It’s expected to contribute $1.1 billion by 2021 and last year the state welcomed the first nonstop flight between California and India.”

A look at Riverside County

Melody Brunsting, a communications specialist for 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington, said tourism in Riverside County as a whole is growing, with direct spending in the county in 2017 at $7.96 billion, up 5.7 percent from the previous year.

There were 81,100 tourism-related jobs in the county, up 4.3 percent from 2016. Local tax receipts were up 6.3 percent to $247.5 million and state tax receipts were up 3.1 percent to $358.5 million.

Brunsting said that one “big dog” which generated a lot of revenue for the county was the greater Palm Springs area, which brought in $5.5 billion in direct spending, $592 million in state and local taxes and ushered in 13.6 million visitors.

Brunsting said the many events and festivals the greater Palm Springs area have contributed to its economic success.

“They have thousands of events and everyone here probably knows of Coachella and the Stagecoach Festival,” Brunsting said. “This last year Coachella saw over 100,000 people over there over two weekends and the Stagecoach festival had over 75,000.”

The City of Riverside is also a big contributor to the county’s economy, Brunsting said. She said that the city’s annual Festival of Lights event brought in roughly $129.8 million and 750,000 visitors over its 42-day stint last year.

How does Temecula’s signature festival compare? Brunsting said that more than 40,000 people visited the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival last year and that 17 percent of them rented a hotel or stayed in a vacation rental. She said the festival generates about $1 million per year.

While Brunsting said she didn’t have economic numbers, she called 2018 a banner year for the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival.

“From the PR perspective, this year we had 39 hits on television,” Brunsting said. “This included CBS, KCAL, KTLA, NBC AND ABC.”

Korean and Chinese media also televised the festival, she said.

Tourism and spending are up in the Temecula Valley

Visit Temecula Valley Chairman of the Board Cherise Manning went over the 2017 travel impacts report for the Temecula Valley, which showed that spending and tourism-related jobs were both up.

Manning said that total employment generated by visitor spending went up 0.55 percent to 7,330 jobs from 7290 jobs in 2016. State and local taxes received totaled $30.3 million, up 2 percent from $29.7 million in 2016.

Manning said Visit Temecula Valley had done a study dividing its visitors into a few key personas: The bucket lister, the experience seeker and the adventure seeker.

She said the top persona are bucket listers, or people 66 or older who take five or more trips per year and stay for longer periods of time than other vacationers.

The next group Visit Temecula Valley targets is the experience seeker. These are people 36-50 with a high disposable income (200K or more) seeking immersive travel experiences.

The last group, Manning said, is the adventure seeker, or people ages 25-35 with a high income (100K or more). These are individuals who either have not started a family or have just recently started one. She said they tend to spend time and money on interests.

Manning said the vast majority of visitors to the Temecula Valley come from surrounding areas such as Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego County, but there is also a big influx of people coming from other states such as Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

The top international visitors to the area, Manning said, are China, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“We’re really trying to follow the footsteps of what Visit California is doing and looking at those international visitors,” she said.

Article by the Valley News