The Travel Forecast

January 11, 2024


Santa Cruz County Gains Presence in Emerging Markets

Now that the pandemic has subsided and international travel is rebounding, VSCC is participating in the reactivation of Visit California’s Club California training series, focused on the travel trade sector. This interactive educational platform is designed to engage and motivate international agents and tour operators about California destinations. VSCC has identified three emerging overseas markets that coincide with the region’s destination assets and visitor preferences.  

Australia has historically been positioned as Santa Cruz County’s third largest overseas market – tied with Canada – following the UK and Germany.  A Club California Australia event was held in August of 2023, with training events in Sydney and Melbourne for frontline and wholesale leisure travel agents who attended a destination and partner update and motion picture screening. The objective of the event was to educate agents on the depth and diversity of the state, and leverage excitement around a popular film release with a California tie-in.

In November, a Club California event was held in India, where Visit California representatives entertained travel agents and provided them with a destination experiences. The event in Delhi featured Santa Cruz County and nine other California destinations where 15-minute presentations and branded videos conveyed key messaging about how these destinations can serve the Indian travel market to 108 key travel trade partners and agents.

Finally, last month Club California came to South Korea, where Visit Santa Cruz County received dedicated opportunities to convey to agents and tour operators destination information and logistical support. This two-part training event will finish with the second event in late May.

Other emerging markets for Santa Cruz County include Japan and Scandinavia.

Arts in California Parks Enhances Visitor Experience

Parks in California will become more welcoming and inclusive over the next four years, as stories of place and culture will be highlighted through the work of local artists, native American tribes and cultural storytellers throughout the state and national park system. Arts in California Parks, commissioned by a one-time grant of $25 million from the state’s general fund, is designed to enrich the visitor experience in state and local parks. Four local Santa Cruz area artists, alongside another six who work in the region, are involved in this new program.

One of more than 20 scheduled events taking place in 2024 as part of a pilot program will take place locally: two murals will be completed in Santa Cruz State Parks to bring awareness to local environmental issues such as plastic pollution, biodiversity loss, cultural understanding, and environmental justice.

Opportunities for creatives and communities to collaborate with park entities on funded projects will be announced in 2024.  Two distinct sub-programs are available: the Local Park Grant Program and the State Parks Program. The former will fund projects in local parks through a competitive grant program and will include three funding cycles.  The State Parks Program will fund additional projects in State Parks in summer 2024 and summer 2025.  Nearly two dozen pilot projects are currently taking place within California State Parks, including performances, events, and installations.

Artists and cultural storytellers interested in creating public art in local and state parks are encouraged to join the Arts in California Parks Artist Directory, an online resource designed to help facilitate the co-creation of project proposals between park entities and creative partners.  Arts organizations and artists of all backgrounds, abilities, and mediums are encouraged to join the Artist Directory.

Click here for more information about the program!

VSCC Winter Campaign Update

As part of a continuing effort to market the Santa Cruz County region during the off-season, VSCC launched a winter campaign on December 15th. Over 7 million consumer impressions have been generated to date, one month into the campaign launch.

Targeting both emerging and markets in which Santa Cruz County has matured, Mexico, Canada, and the UK have been identified as the most promising regions for the destination. As winter campaign efforts continue, VSCC staff will carefully assess all three markets and optimize results at the halfway mark, shifting resources accordingly through the life of the campaign, which concludes on February 23rd. Recently, VSCC has changed its strategy from a direct-to-consumer seasonal campaign effort and has adopted a digitized platform utilizing SEO and targeted analytics to capture international and domestic audiences.  

Organic Waste and Food Recovery Regulations Now in Effect

Senate Bill 1383 takes effect at the New Year, with the goal of reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills by 75 percent by 2025, with a 20 percent recovery goal of all edible food that would otherwise be disposed of. Originally passed in 2016, the bill requires that generators, including any hotel with 200 or more rooms and an on-site food facility, or restaurants with 250 or more seats or a total facility size equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet, must start recovering and donating the maximum amount of edible food. Click here for more information.

Arrivals and Departures

VSCC Board Member Emily Thomas and her business partner have sold Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing to Sante Adairius Rustic Ales and Private Press. Emily plans to put her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Monterey College of Law to use in her next endeavor. Stop by the Ingalls Street institution on Sunday, January 28th to extend best wishes to Emily on her future adventures!

Take the Arts in California Parks Survey

Let your voice be heard! With guidance from a survey, an advisory committee and community and artist participation, the Arts in California State Parks program will increase the capacity of California’s parks to nourish, educate, and inspire individuals and communities. Complete the Arts in California Parks Survey to ensure that your preferences and ideas inform how this project grows over the next two years.

Faskmasks and Sanitizer Available from VSCC

VSCC has a supply of surgical and N95 facemasks and a limited supply of hand sanitizer to lodging properties and local businesses. Please contact us if you need any of these items for your staff or guests. 

Did you know?

The new year brought in the official word that Golden Chanterelles are now California’s official state mushroom. Assembly Bill 261 reads in part: “Recognition of a state mushroom honors the manifold cultural, economic, and ecological roles mushrooms play in California.” Stay golden!