Visitors to Sonoma County spent a whopping $1.47 billion in 2011, a more than 9 percent increase over 2010, according to the latest figures released by Visit California.
“This is great news for Sonoma County’s thriving hospitality industry,” said Ken Fischang, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, the county’s destination marketing organization. “That, coupled with an increase in hotel occupancy rate, shows that we’ve successfully navigated the recession and have come out the other side.”
The increase in visitors also means an increase in local government revenue.
“Visitor spending accounts for 19 percent of local tax revenue in Sonoma County,” said Ben Stone, director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. “And, compared to the statewide average, Sonoma County collects nearly 17 percent more tax revenue from visitors.”
Visitor-generated taxes equal $168 per household in Sonoma County.
Tourism employment accounted for nearly 17,000 jobs in Sonoma County, meaning almost one of every 10 jobs in the county is tied to hospitality and tourism.
“Nearly 10 percent of our local jobs come from the hospitality sector, so this increase in revenues bodes well for more jobs and income here in Sonoma County,” Stone added.
Hospitality industry earnings also increased by 4.9 percent.
From 2001 through 2011, industry earnings generated by tourism spending has increased by 41.5 percent.
“Sonoma County has long been an attractive destination for visitors,” said Tim McGregor, SCT board chair and general manager of Bodega Bay Lodge. “We certainly are anticipating that the county will continue the upward trend in TOT revenues that we have enjoyed over the past few years.”