When you find yourself stuck at home with a foot of snow blocking the driveway, and a restless toddler in tow, it’s easy to find yourself California dreamin’ . There’s something about California, and it’s more than just the weather, it is an attitude, more laid-back than its East Coast counterparts. It is the people, it is — a state of mind.
Five years ago, my family decided to move from New Jersey to Southern California, and we’ve never looked back since – adapting easily to the Mediterranean climate and the chill attitude. My boys and I have been, in a word, California-fied!
Since moving to SoCal, we’ve hosted visiting family members from the East Coast and overseas. Between playing host to out-of-towners and writing about “staycations,” I sometimes feel I have become an ambassador for California tourism.
Last summer, I attended the Discover IE Toursim Summit at the Ontario Improv. Discover IE is the marketing campaign of the Inland Empire Tourism Council (IETC). It was a very interesting summit that provided insights on tourism not just for the Inland Empire but for California as a whole. It was also the first breakfast meeting that I had experienced that was hosted by a stand-up comedian. His name was Darren Carpenter and I tell ya, he kept us in stitches at 7:30 AM. Presentations were made by Lynn Carpenter, vice president of marketing of Visit California and Joel Greene, founder & host of Curiosity Quest & IE Explorer TV.
Steve Pontell, CEO and president of National Community Renaissance moderated a panel that included Gillian Zucker, president of the Auto Club Speedway, Rick Shoup, president and CEO of Big Bear Lake Resort Association, Kimberly Adams, president & CEO of Temecula Valley Conventions and Visitors Bureau, and Sharon Estep, Marketing Director of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.
The travel and tourism industry is of vital importance to the California economy.
Just take a look at these facts:
“Total direct travel spending in California = $102.3 billion in 2011 (7.6 percent increase from 2010 spending)
Travel spending in California = 893,000 jobs, with earnings of $30.4 billion.
Travel spending generated the greatest number of jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation (221,000 jobs), and accommodations and food service (523,000 jobs).
Travel spending in 2011 generated $2.3 billion in local taxes and $4.0 billion in state taxes.”
Source: California Travel Impacts by County 2011, by Dean Runyan Associates, April 2012
But the facts only back up the reality that Californians and transplants like me and Rob Lowe (!) already know. Check out this tourism video created by Visit California featuring the actor, the official “unofficial” California tour guide.