This week is National Travel and Tourism week, and May is also California Tourism Month. Peak travel season on the Central Coast happens between June and September.
"Last year in 2021, tourism generated $104 million in local taxes for the San Luis Obispo County economy and so what does that mean without those local taxes that go to pay for all of the emergency services that are here in our markets and roads and bridges and the things that we all need in order to enjoy,” said Chuck Davison, president and CEO of Visit SLO CAL.
Without the tax revenue, Visit SLO CAL says local households would need to spend about $1,700 in local taxes to make up the difference, or about $1,600 in taxes on local goods and services.
“In 2019, we recorded record tourism spending for the county. And then you fast forward into 2020, obviously with the pandemic and into 2021, we started to see the rebound,” added Davison.
However, that rebound was cut short in January 2021 because many places closed due to the Delta variant.
“But now that the pandemic is shifting towards an epidemic level and we're starting to see travel return, we're really focused on how we can help grow and establish the market again as a major West Coast destination here in California," Davison explained.
However, businesses continue to face a challenge when it comes to staffing. Pre-pandemic, about 23,000 people worked in tourism locally every day, and for 2021, that number changed to 20,000.
“We're short about 15% of our workforce here in the market and that creates a problem for delivering on the great guest experiences that this destination is known for,” Davison clarified.
Now that international travel is happening again, Visit SLO CAL expects to see more of a rebound, especially as Hearst Castle reopens next week. They are anticipating more tourists from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico.