The Travel Forecast

September 25, 2019

VSCC Unveils Heritage Tourism Initiative

In October 2018, Visit Santa Cruz County gathered community members and local organizations as a first step toward the establishment of a Heritage Tourism effort.  Championed by VSCC board member Bonny Hawley, Executive Director of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, the task force was comprised of representatives from museums, state parks, arts organizations, and wine representatives.  The first task force meeting was facilitated by a moderator, and the resulting study – published in early 2019 – outlined top-tier ideas and overarching strategies for promoting Heritage Tourism in Santa Cruz County.

For the purposes of this initiative, Heritage Tourism is defined as: Traveling to Santa Cruz County to experience natural and built environments, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the diverse peoples, cultures, and stories of our local past and present.  Seven themes were identified as priorities as the initiative moves forward:  Agriculture/Food History, Explorer/Settler History, Natural History, Native Peoples, Surf Culture, Immigrant/Ethnic Heritage, and Eccentric Santa Cruz.  Central to the initiative, Visit Santa Cruz County developed dedicated real estate on in the form of a landing page populated with Heritage Tourism content, including a story about the history of the “Cement Ship”, a local history roundup, and videos illustrating living history demonstrations and the role of wharves and piers within the county. Heritage Tourism promotion will continue through online marketing efforts, social media support, and a digital partnership with the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council, a national travel trade organization that publishes the Cultural Traveler, a print and online outlet highlighting arts, culture, and heritage of various US destinations.

Meetings and Conferences Summer Recap

VSCC’s Sales and Marketing department partnered with a number of businesses this past summer to attract more conference and meetings business to Santa Cruz County.

California’s Great America Pavilion was the setting for All Things Meetings’ (ATM) Reception and Trade Show on July 24th, 2019. VSCC joined a dynamic contingent of local partners, Hotel Paradox Autograph CollectionDream Inn Santa CruzSanta Cruz Beach BoardwalkChaminade Resort & SpaSeascape Beach ResortBest Western Plus All Suites Inn, and Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley, to represent Santa Cruz County. ATM connects planners with properties, DMOs, team-building services, and everything else a planner might need to host an event in Santa Cruz County. Director of Sales and Marketing, Laura Manriquez connected with potential event-planning clients, and introduced them to local partners at the reception, offering more comprehensive information about Santa Cruz County from the trade show booth.

On June 26th, 2019, VSCC hosted their Rooftop Sip & Sunset event in Santana Row for the second year, bringing together Bay Area meeting planners and Santa Cruz County industry professionals for networking, in an effort to immerse planners in Santa Cruz County culture and inspire them with potential future meeting venues and group activities from the convenience of their own Silicon Valley backyard.

Conference venues and services in attendance were: Dream Inn Santa CruzHilton Santa Cruz-Scotts ValleyIntentional LeadersHotel ParadoxSeascape Beach ResortHyatt PlaceShadowbrook Restaurant, and Best Western All Suites Inn. VSCC partners Mutari Craft Chocolate, and Birichino Winery contributed “a taste of Santa Cruz” to the event.

Get Involved in the Winter Wildlife Watching Getaway Promotion

VSCC is gearing up for wintertime wildlife watching opportunities with a Winter Wildlife Watching Getaway promotion and off-season lodging discounts.  With the monarch butterflies arriving in fall, elephant seals arriving at Año Nuevo State Reserve to birth their young, and bird and whale migration combined with increased activity in the Monterey Bay, now is the time to start planning for overnight visitors during December and January to help boost business during the slower season.   Here’s how your lodging property can get involved in this free promotion:

The Winter Wildlife Watching Getaway will kick off on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 and end on Friday, January 31, 2020.  VSCC is encouraging hotels to offer lodging specials throughout the campaign period.  Examples of specials and packages may include but are not limited to:

  1. An overnight stay combined with tickets for kayaking, whale watching, or a sailing cruise from wildlife-watching-related businesses.
  1. Weekends: 3 nights for the price of 2 (any stay including a Friday or Saturday night)
  2. Weekdays: 2 nights for the price of 1 (Sunday through Thursday)

Blackout dates and T&C’s are up to you!  For reference, guests can use the hashtag #SCWhales when making their reservation on either a reservation page or when calling your property to make a reservation.  A dedicated webpage will be created on announcing these specials with a link and photo of your property, as well as wildlife watching ideas and a link for visitors to order a free Wildlife Watching Kit.  To get involved, just complete the form found at this link no later than Monday, October 14, 2019 to provide us with details and to confirm your participation in the Winter Wildlife Getaway Promotion.  More information will follow.  In the meantime, if you have questions, contact VSCC


Register Now for Outlook Forum 2020

Outlook Forum, the California travel and tourism industry’s premier event will take place February 10 – 11, 2020 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.  Register now and save $350.  The early bird registration fee of $649 is available until November 22nd.  A special room block rate of $295 is available, but book your room now to secure this deal. 

Partner Kudos!

Super congrats to Bijal Patel, Sales Manager of the Quality Inn & Suites Santa Cruz Mountains and VSCC Board Member, who has been selected as one of Hotel Management’s 30 Under 30 executives for 2019! In October, Bijal will be among 29 other industry movers and shakers as he will be highlighted in the Young Professionals feature story in Hotel Management magazine. Roaring Camp Railroads has a new look to their website, utilizing dynamic video content to capture viewers. And recently, Capitola ranked as the fourth most unspoiled vacation spot in the U.S.! 

Marriott Bans Single-Use Plastics

Marriott International announced last month that it will eliminate small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel from its hotel rooms worldwide by December 2020 – replacing them with larger bottles or wall-mounted dispensers, depending on the hotel.  Santa Cruz County became the first jurisdiction in the US to officially ban single-use plastic toiletry bottles across the hospitality industry.

Trending: Transformational Travel

Industry experts have identified a shift from experiential travel to transformational travel, according to a new report. The Transformational Travel Council, founded in 2016, defines transformational travel as “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.”  Transformational focuses on authentic experiences, but takes those experiences to a deeper emotional level, motivating travelers to apply meaning to what they’ve learned on their travels and take action once they’ve returned home. Read more here on this upcoming trend.


that redwood parks host more than 31 million visitors from around the world every year, including those in Santa Cruz County like the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Loch Lomond Recreation Area, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Pogonip Open Space, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and others?  From Big Sur to the Oregon border, there are over 100 places where visitors can view these majestic trees.  Now, Save the Redwoods League wants to hear from you!  Send them your recommendations of hidden gems, lesser-known trails, and other places worth featuring on their new updated online trip planner and share the forest love!