Tourism Industry Update

March 14, 2024

IN THIS ISSUE…

Visit Santa Cruz County’s 2024 Symmetry Debuts

Continuing to tell the story of the collective regions throughout the county, Santa Cruz County’s official traveler’s guide is now available. Symmetry, a 75-page upscale magazine, illustrates the cornerstones of the region that set it apart from other coastal California destinations. 

The front of the book section features a community-focused lifestyle perspective of Santa Cruz County. Thoughtfully curated content in the form of comprehensive, journalistically-driven narratives and reflective photography conveying the soulful nature of Santa Cruz County are woven throughout the guide.  

The guide is the result of a unique partnership that was established in 2022 between Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC) and Edible Monterey Bay (EMB) to produce the publication.  

The main feature story uncovers the cultural and scientific impact of fog, effecting our climate, agriculture, redwood forests, and the significance of the marine layer on the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and their ancestors. 

Other stories debuting in Symmetry include a retrospective of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which celebrates 100 years in 2024, a story about the Santa Cruz Warriors and the team’s impact on the local community, beer can labels and their creative flair, a profile on local farmers and an overview of the regional food scene.

The back of the book section serves to inform visitors about where to stay, eat, and what to do while in-market. Complemented by display advertising from hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other local businesses, this section of the magazine features dining and lodging listings highlighting the amenities offered by various restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfast inns, motels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds.  Activity listings, signature events, and a redesigned county map in a playful aesthetic are also trademarks of the magazine.

With a print run of 100,000 copies, distribution includes California Welcome Centers throughout the state, key regional and international airports in both northern and southern California, and international airports in Portland, Phoenix, and Seattle. Distribution has been expanded in 2024 to include South Lake Tahoe and continued distribution in Sacramento and Monterey Counties.

Free copies of Symmetry can be ordered online at www.santacruz.org, by calling 800.833.3494 or by stopping by the year-around visitor center at 303 Water Street, Suite 100 in Santa Cruz Fridays – Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

VSCC Announces Autism Certification

Following specialized training in February, VSCC staff are now Certified Autism Travel Professionals –through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). IBCCES also manages AutismTravel.com, a complimentary online resource that lists certified destinations and additional resources for families. While a certified organization must have at least 80 percent of their staff undergo autism training and certification, all members of the VSCC staff chose to participate in a series of training modules and tests in order to broaden the scope of how the organization is embracing various sectors of the travel market.

Visit Santa Cruz County is in the process of expanding the amenities of its year-around visitor center – located at 303 Water Street in Santa Cruz – including the addition of fidget toys and plush toys to enhance a low-sensory area for the benefit of neurodivergent visitors. Combined with staff accreditation, these changes will transform the visitor center into a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC).

According to a survey by Autism Travel, 87 percent of families with members who have autism don’t take vacations due to the sensory overload involved in travel – including loud noises, dietary changes, and disruption in routine. These stressors can cause discomfort and outbursts if not compassionately managed and addressed.

Other California destinations with autism-forward initiatives include Visit Visalia, which is a Certified Autism Destination, and Visit Greater Palm Springs, which became a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) in 2022.

VSCC Staff Attends Go West Summit

Top international tour operators from around the world focused their attention on the western U.S. last month at the Go West Summit in Lake Tahoe, which took place February 26th – 29th. VSCC’s Flavia Oliveira, Director of Sales and Travel Trade, joined other specialty tourism suppliers at the summit to build lasting business-to-business relationships and learn about current trends in the international tourism market. 

Go West Summit is considered by industry professionals to be a premier conference and has been taking place for three decades. The program agenda included an international travel forecast designed to help destinations focus their international promotion efforts in the right markets using the U.S. Department of Commerce’s dashboard. The session explored which countries had the highest inbound-U.S. visitation, which states received the most international travelers, and what the future holds for international tourism. Other presentations on sustainable tourism, global travel forecasts, building measurable campaigns, and other topics preceded two days of one-on-one appointments matching buyers and suppliers.

West Cliff Plan Unveiled

The City of Santa Cruz’s iconic West Cliff Drive may be transformed from a two-way scenic road to a one-way, westbound street to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle traffic. A draft of the 50-Year Community Vision for West Cliff was unveiled by the city in late February, and a community discussion was held at the London Nelson Center, where residents shared their thoughts about the plan. While safeguarding the coastline is a fundamental part of the plan, the main focus of discussion continues to be the debate between one-way and two-way traffic. The city council will deliberate the plan during its April meeting. In the meantime, read the plan here and sign up with the city to receive email updates!    

Social Media Update

Sans much sun, winter still brought a buzz to Santa Cruz County! King Tide content piquing the interest of fans this season! This blog received over 23,000 clicks from December 2023 through February 2024, social posts had thousands of likes, and this dreamy reel had over 72.7k views. Another winter favorite is the Beach Boardwalk’s Clam Chowder Cook-Off! This reel, shared before this year’s event, received over 48.2k views and created a lot of excitement about this annual foodie fest!

Partner Kudos!

Congratulations to 5th District Supervisor and former VSCC Board Member Bruce McPherson, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement (Legacy) Award from the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce during the annual Community Gala and Awards Dinner at the Coconut Grove Ballroom on April 11, 2024. Supervisor McPherson is planning to retire in December, at the end of his current term. For more information and to register for the Community Gala and Awards Dinner, click here!

Register for the Legislative Action Summit

The California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) is planning its annual Legislative Action Summit on Wednesday, April 17th, in Sacramento. Join other CHLA members for presentations on legislative and regulatory issues, followed by meetings with Assembly Members and Senators to discuss key policy measures. Click here to register!

Did you know?

As a CHLA member, hoteliers have access to exclusive discounts from UnitedHealthcare, including up to 5 percent off manual medical rates for fully insured groups with 101 or more full-time employees and annual invoice credit of up to 5 percent on administrative fees for new self-funded medical products for self-funded groups with 100 or more full-time employees. Santa Cruz County lodging properties receive a complimentary CHLA membership as a benefit for TMD members. Click here to learn more.