Bay Area Boasts Record Tourism Numbers

Bay Area Boasts Record Tourism NumbersBay Area Boasts Record Tourism Numbers

The San Francisco Bay Area’s tourism industry is stronger than ever, according to a report from state visitors’ bureau Visit California.

Visitors to the Bay Area spent more than $33 billion in 2015, making it the largest regional contributor to the state’s tourism revenue, which topped $122 billion for the year.

“Travel has become one of the most important engines for economic growth in California,” said Visit California CEO Caroline Beteta, Mercury News reported.

She added that the tourism industry in California has a “catalytic effect” on other industries, and secondary benefits such as downtown revitalization and the addition of cultural amenities.

The industry is represented mostly by retail and service companies, such as hotels, restaurants, stores, gas stations and other businesses that sell products or services to travelers.

Out of California’s 58 counties, 51 of them saw an increase in spending directly related to travel, including all nine Bay Area counties. Alameda County saw $3.89 billion in traveler spending in 2015, a 4.9% increase over the previous year, and in Contra Costa County, visitors generated $1.58 billion in spending, up 1.3% from 2014.

Santa Clara and San Mateo counties saw even more dramatic increases in visitor spending in 2015, with Santa Clara at $5.40 billion, a 6.2% increase from the previous year, and San Mateo with $3.36 billion, a 5.5% increase.

Aside from generating local and state tax revenues, tourism industry in the Bay Area has been both a catalyst and a beneficiary of infrastructure projects like hotels and airport projects.

According to a report, from 2006 to 2015, new building and renovation projects statewide that related to tourism reached $20 billion. Those projects include airport renovations, as well as new retail, restaurant and cultural amenities.

Perhaps the biggest impact from the strong tourism industry is its role as a jobs generator. In Alameda County, jobs created from Bay Area travel have increased by an average of 1.2% each year since 1992, with a total of 28,550 jobs in 2015, according to the Visit California report.

Contra Costa saw a similar increase each year, with 15,840 travel-generated jobs in 2015. Santa Clara County had 35,280 such jobs in 2015 and San Mateo had 43,490.