California, here I come: State projects tourism growth in 05

Projections indicate that travel to California has rebounded significantly.

A report by Dean Runyan Associates projects that arrivals by air in 2005 will exceed arrivals in 2000, the record year for the state. There were a projected 29.8 million domestic air arrivals at California airports last year, 2.6% higher than 2004 figures.

Visitor spending in California is expected to reach $88.1 billion in 2005, a hike of 7.6% from the previous year and the largest year-over-year gain since 2000. It was the third consecutive year of growth.

A report by Smith Travel Research showed that California lodging occupancies were strong in 2005. Statewide occupancy averaged 69% during the year, four points higher than 2004 and nine points above the U.S. average.

Revenue per available room averaged $70.65, a jump of more than 10.1% over the previous year.

In 2004, California captured a 10.8% marketshare of total U.S. domestic travel and 20.7% of all overseas travel. Spending by international visitors makes up more than 15% of all travel spending in the state, and there are indications that international visitor count has rebounded as well, according to the Dean Runyan report.

Of Californias 8.9 million international visitors, 4.2 million travel from overseas. Total overseas visitors to California rose 6% in 2004 to 4.2 million.

The top overseas market is the U.K., which was flat at 693,000 travelers for both 2003 and 2004. Californias second-largest inbound travel market, Japan, grew by 7% in 2004, to 630,000.

The other three top overseas visitor markets are Germany (with 275,000 visitors in 2004), South Korea (273,000) and Australia (259,000). The largest jump was from Australia/New Zealand, with 200,000 visitors in 2003 and 259,000 in 2004.

Mexico and Canada account for more visitors than all the overseas markets combined; 3.3 million Mexicans traveled to California by car and 409,000 arrived by air; 983,400 Canadians arrived by air and car.

Another finding by D.K. Shifflet is that with the exception of New York, the bulk of Californias visitors come from nearby states.

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