2022 SMTT Tourism Summit

Posted May 4, 2022

SANTA MONICA, Calif., (May 4, 2022) – The 2022 Santa Monica Tourism Summit: Take on Tomorrow, Restoring a Vibrant and Thriving Santa Monica occurred on the beach at the iconic Jonathan Beach Club on Wednesday, May 4. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s 13th annual program brought nearly 250 attendees the opportunity for a toes-in-the-sand informative experience.

Program highlights included a travel outlook for Santa Monica, Los Angeles and California. Caroline Beteta, Visit California President and CEO, and Erin Francis-Cummings, President and CEO of Destination Analysts, offered additional insights into international and domestic travel. Wendy Kheel and Lauren Schlau, expert presenters, shared tourism trends and insights. Santa Monica City Manager David White, Police Chief Ramon Batista, Fire Chief Danny Alvarez joined a robust panel moderated by Santa Monica College President Dr. Kathryn Jeffrey. The “Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award” and the “Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year” were also announced.

During the summit, Schlau presented a review of Santa Monica in 2021 that showed signs of recovery with 2021 visitor volume, days, spending, taxes, and jobs rising from 2020. A summary of Santa Monica 2020 and 2019 key visitor performance measures include:

Indicator 2021 2020 2019
Number % Change
Total Number of Visitors 3,504,048 72.5% 2,0310,100 8,413,100
Total Visitor Days 5,071,296 64.7% 3,079,900 11,528,200
Annual Visitor Spending $750,259,292 65.3% $453,820,900 $1.89 billion
Hotel Tax Revenue to City (from non-local visitors) $41,927,620 124.2% $18,698,400 $58,315,740
Visitor Retail Sales ax Revenue to City $3,730,376 20.7% $3,090,100 $13,875,500
Equivalent tax per SM Household from visitor spend $937 106.8% $453 $1,496
Santa Monica Jobs Supported by Tourism 5,747 85.7% 3,095 12,010

Schlau added that Santa Monica’s successful tourism industry was comprised of 51% international visitors in 2019, which fell to 24.9% in 2020, but with a low 9% share of international travelers in 2021, recovery momentum was limited as shown in the Santa Monica Visitor Profile:

Characteristic 2021 2020
% International visitor 9.2% 24.9% 51%
% U.S. resident visitor (excl. California) 60.8% 42.6% 30%
% California resident 30.0% 32.6% 19%

While increasing international visitation remained the primary objective, a steady tourism recovery in 2021 was focused on a drive market strategy with reach into California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida with successes as demonstrated:

Top U.S. Feeder States Share of U.S. International Feed Markets
Share of Int’l.
California 33.0% Mexico / Central Am. 28.3%
Texas 6.7% Asia 20.6%
Nevada 5.8% Eastern Canada 11.4%
New York 5.6% Central/Eastern Europe 7.7%
Florida 4.7% Middle East 7.2%
Illnois 4.0% South America 6.8%
Washington 3.3% Western Canada 5.1%
Arizona 2.8% Western Europe 3.3%
Virginia 2.4% Utd. Kingdom/ireland 3.0%
Pennsylvania 2.3% Australia/New Zealand 1.0%
Top 10 States 70.6% Africa 1.0%
Asia Pacific 1.0%
Scandinavia 0.7%
Other 2.8%


“Bringing international travel back to Santa Monica is crucial to the overall recovery process in 2022 and beyond,” said Albin Gielicz, Board Chair, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. “It’s also incumbent on Santa Monica as a destination to continue to target the drive market and recapture the meetings and events business to support Santa Monica tourism.”

The tourism research showed that overall visitor spending in 2021 supported 5,747 local jobs, up 86% over 3,100 jobs in 2020. Thus, Santa Monica tourism showed signs of recovery, but lacking significant international and business visitation, is slower – but will be steady, if COVID stays contained, countries open for out-bound tourism and consumers trust that they can travel safely.

“The research shows and the trends indicate that Santa Monica is headed in the right direction after two very challenging years trying to sustain and grow tourism in our city,” said David White, City Manager, City of Santa Monica. “We continue to monitor current events and look optimistically toward an increase in visitors and a rebound for local businesses.”

In addition to the tourism update, SMTT announced the recipients of the “Thelma Parks Spirit Award,” which in partnership with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, honors an extraordinary employee in the Santa Monica tourism industry, and the “Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year” award that honors an individual or organization who demonstrates creativity and leadership while fostering the positive experience of visitors and Santa Monica community pride. The 2022 “Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award” honoree is Darius Smiley, Guest Services Agent, Le Meridien Delfina Hotel, and the “Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year” honoree is Jennifer Taylor, Economic Development Manager, City of Santa Monica.

“National Travel and Tourism week is the first week of May. An annual celebration of our industry and specifically Santa Monica’s tourism employees and all that our industry offers for our local businesses, economy, individual well-being and incredible experiences. This was one of our first in-person events as we move beyond the pandemic and into a successful recovery period both domestically and internationally,” said Misti Kerns, President and CEO of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. “The annual Tourism Summit also provides an opportunity to showcase Santa Monica residents and businesses who exemplify the amazing tourism experience.”

SMTT would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s Santa Monica Tourism Summit including BODIES 2.0, Bonotel, Certified Folder, Circuit, Datafy, MMGY Global, Noble Studios, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica College, Simpleview and Veo.

About Santa Monica Travel & TourismSanta Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) works to strengthen our local economy by enhancing and promoting our communities as a distinctive, compelling and welcoming travel destination. For more information visit santamonica.com, email info@santamonica.com, or follow SMTT on Instagram (@SeeSantaMonica), Twitter (@GoSantaMonica) or Facebook (@VisitSantaMonica).



Discover Santa Monica

Explore itineraries, local tips, hot spots and curated adventures to make sure you get the most out of your Santa Monica experience.

View more Blogs