Industry report shows record travel spending in 2016 in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A new travel industry report puts the state of California at the top of the list when it comes to U.S. travel destinations.

2016 was a banner year for tourism in California and San Diego. A new report shows tourists spent almost $16 billion in San Diego County last year, a record high, and the culmination of seven straight years of growth.

Carl Winston, Director of SDSU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said he isn’t surprised at the latest figures. He said they show tourism is making a robust rebound following the recession. 

With San Diego’s diverse array of attractions, Winston said it’s not surprising that the average annual increase in travel spending, 4.6 percent, was greater in San Diego County than any other region in the state.

This record-breaking spending though is expected to wind down. The report by Visit California is forecasting a more moderate rise in travel spending next year.

Part of the reason for that may be a stronger dollar, hiking prices in the U.S. for international visitors.

California tourism bureaus are also seeing fewer visitors from Canada and Mexico, the state’s two biggest markets.

With the new travel ban and changes to U.S. Immigration policy, Winston said the number of travelers from other countries may also be affected.

While San Diego has held the top spot in annual travel spending increases, Winston said there’s competition ahead to the north.

To keep the tourist dollar flowing, Winston said San Diego will need to upgrade its infrastructure by building a bigger Convention Center and bringing in more daily flights, possibly through a bi-national partnership with the airport in Tijuana.

Categories: Local San Diego News