SAN FRANCISCO --
California will double its spending on tourism promotion in the
2007-08 fiscal year to $50 million, a record level that will
catapult the state to the No. 2 spot, behind Hawaii, in state
allocations for promoting tourism.
"It's a huge
improvement for us," said Jennifer Jasper, a spokeswoman for the
California Travel and Tourism Commission. "We've not been anywhere
close even to the top" among states, in terms of
tourism marketing spending. She said the new budget would raise
California to No. 2, at least for now.
The boost comes
from legislation that went into effect on Jan. 1, allowing car
rental companies to collect 2.5% on every dollar spent on rentals
at airports and hotels in California for the CTTC's
That fee already
has raised this fiscal year's tourism promotion funding to record
levels, giving the CTTC an estimated extra $15 million in the first
six months of 2007, for a total budget of $25 million for 2006-2007
(fiscal years in California are July 1 to June 30).
years, the CTTC, a nonprofit organization that handles the state's
tourism marketing and is funded by the state and private industry,
had a budget of between $14 million and $18 million.
for this year's increased funding was an October 2005 decision by
the CTTC to hike the annual assessments that travel companies pay
to the marketing program, from $450 for every $1 million in
travel-related revenues to $650 for every $1 million.
That allowed the
CTTC to mount a spring and summer national advertising campaign
entitled "Fast Lane" that features Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and
celebrities -- Clint Eastwood, Teri Hatcher and Jeff Gordon among
them. Commercials have been shown during top-rated TV shows,
including "American Idol." The spot is one part of a $10
million spring and summer campaign that includes TV, print and
The CTTC is
putting the finishing touches on its plans for the 2007-08 fiscal
year, when it will receive $35 million to $38 million from the car
rental fee, $9 million to $10 million from industry assessments and
$1 million from the state government.
that led to the funding increase, AB 2592, was not sponsored by
Schwarzenegger (it was authored by Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), but
the governor signed it into law and supports the efforts, according
to a spokeswoman, Sabrina Lockhart.
"Tourism is such
a huge economic driver for California," she said. "Anything that
complements the governor's efforts to increase tourism is something
that the administration supports."
include increasing marketing and advertising efforts in new and
existing domestic and international markets," said Caroline Beteta,
CTTC executive director. "We've also earmarked funds so that
California tourism will remain technologically competitive,
including enhancing and upgrading Internet-based activities and
consumer Web sites."
Some $20 million
will be spent on advertising and marketing efforts in international
markets, particularly Canada, Japan and the U.K.
marketing funds are projected to generate an additional $1.7
billion in overseas visitor spending, directly support 18,000 more
jobs and generate $66.7 million in additional state tax revenues,"
California's visitor numbers have been steady over the last few
years, the state has been losing market share to destinations in
the U.S. and abroad, and it has ranked far below other destinations
in marketing dollars it could spend, hampering its ability to
compete, said Jasper.
For example, for
the 2005-06 fiscal year, the most recent period for which data are
available from the Travel Industry Association, California ranked
12th in the list of projected state tourism office budgets. Hawaii
was first, with nearly $70 million; California had projected a
$16.1 million budget.
"It's been, in a
word, embarrassing that California has had such a small budget for
so many years," said Laurie Armstrong, vice president of marketing
and communications for the San Francisco Convention and Visitors
Bureau. "We were falling behind other states. There was a
temptation to have an attitude that everyone loves California and
always will. But there are a dozen other places that can say
something similar, so it's important to keep the attention focused
on California. This [funding increase] will go a long
To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].