The Travel Forecast

January 19, 2023

Local Hotels Support Winter Storm Evacuees

During last week’s intensive rain storms, VSCC supported the efforts of the County of Santa Cruz Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which worked to shelter local residents in storm-affected areas who required housing following evacuation orders.

VSCC staff conducted outreach to the over 100 properties countywide who are members of the local Tourism Marketing District. Hotels and motels in Aptos, Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville adjusted their rates to accommodate a possible influx of local residents in need of a place to stay.   

With seasonal weather increasing storm fronts statewide, it has been reported that Santa Cruz County has received at least 20 inches of rain since New Year’s Eve. Evacuation orders were previously in place for areas in Watsonville, Santa Cruz, the San Lorenzo Valley, Soquel, Capitola, and other regions within the county. 

The roster of lodging options was shared with County of Santa Cruz officials, who disseminated the information through an emergency call center and EOC partners. 

Additionally, Visit Santa Cruz County shared emergency information, weather conditions, and messages of support with fans and followers on Instagram and Twitter as needed during the winter storms. 

VSCC Partners with Hotels to Attend CalSAE

Last month, VSCC Sales and Marketing Director Flavia Oliveira and her staff attended Cal-SAE’s Seasonal Spectacular, an event series designed to attract meeting and conference planners to Santa Cruz County, hosted by the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE), held in Sacramento. VSCC invited Jacob Youngblood with Hotel Paradox, Autograph CollectionChristine Carwell with Chaminade Resort & Spa and Catreina McGovert with Dream Inn, Santa Cruz, to join the destination booth at the event.

Keynote speaker Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California, was featured, along with other guests who addressed strategic content, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, leveraging technology, employee engagement, and more.  The event consisted of education seminars with one-on-one pre-set appointments, allowing Flavia to meet with meeting planners to share venue information, promote VSCC teambuilding vendors, and provide activity ideas for corporate groups and conferences. With such close proximity to the Sacramento and northern California area, Santa Cruz County offers more intimate meeting facilities juxtaposing the intentional campus experience of larger companies, with the added bonus of being surrounded by natural beauty, state parks, and beaches.

Assistant Secretary of Tourism Position Created Nationally

As part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month, the creation of an assistant secretary of travel and tourism in the U.S. Department of Commerce has been established. This new position will be responsible for developing and coordinating a national strategy around tourism, one of America’s strongest economic drivers. The travel industry generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.  Historically, the U.S. has been the only country among the G-20 to not have a cabinet-level tourism office.

The Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021, on which the new position was based, also authorizes the establishment of a U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, the collection of data on domestic travel and tourism, mandates the development of a national travel and tourism strategy every ten years, and reports on the effects of the pandemic on the travel and tourism industry.

According to Skift, a key priority for the new position will be resolving the visitor visa (B-1 and B-2) interview wait times, which have ballooned to over 400 days on average for visitors from Brazil, Mexico, India, and other top U.S. inbound markets. Millions of would-be visitors to the US haven’t been able to attend meetings, stay in hotels and visit destinations in 2022. 

The visa-delay disaster will cost the industry $12 billion in 2023 and it alone will be the reason international travel won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until 2025, according to U.S. Travel.

Was Your Business Impacted by the Storms?

The City of Santa Cruz’s Economic Development Department is working with the County of Santa Cruz to collect information about damage to local businesses impacted by the recent winter storms. This information may be used to apply for funding from the Small Business Association. The deadline to report damage to your business has been extended to Friday, January 20thClick here to take the business impact survey!

Register for InnSpire

Do you own or operate a small independent hotel? The 2023 InnSpire Conference & Marketplace, hosted by the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns, offers educational sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities.  The conference will take place January 29 – 31 at the Marriott Walnut Creek. Click here to register.

Arrivals and Departures

Welcome Andre Premier, new General Manager of the Seascape Beach Resort!

VSCC Receives Industry Award

VSCC was recognized as a Platinum Choice Award winner in the December issue of Smart Meetings magazine. The Platinum Choice Awards honor the hospitality industry’s top-ranked hotels and destinations that display the highest standards of overall excellence in service and amenities. Now in its 21st year, the award acknowledges tourism and hospitality partners who ensure meeting planners receive top-notch support as they organize an event.

Did you know……

According to Hospitality.net, families spend 25 percent more per booking than other travelers. During the pandemic, the proportion of families traveling internationally declined compared to other traveler groups. However, Q2 data showed that international family travel has recovered to pre-pandemic levels and now accounts for the same proportion of travelers as in 2019, about 15 percent. Data from Q3 brought even stronger news, with international family travel growing by 90 percent year-over-year.

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