Tourism spending a major driver of Santa Monica’s local economy in 2016

 SANTA MONICA, Calif. May 12, 2017 – Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) hosted over 300 members of the community at its 8th annual Travel & Tourism Summit today at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The event highlighted the organization’s most current figures on the economic impact of tourism to the city, updates on SMTT’s strategic sales and marketing initiatives, and panel discussions from leaders in local government, destination marketing, and global economics.

SMTT’s 2016 Tourism Economic and Fiscal Impact summary report was released during the Summit, highlighting sustained growth in a local travel industry that drives the city’s economy with its visitor spending, job creation and tax revenue generated. The report, conducted annually to track the economic impact of tourism for the destination, underscored that tourism spending injected $1.87 billion into Santa Monica’s local economy, with nearly $51 million going directly into the City’s general fund from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The contribution of the TOT to the City’s general fund, supported entirely by overnight hotel guests, reflects an estimated savings of $1,311 in taxes per Santa Monica household that would be required to maintain city services at their current level. The report also notes the 13,000 tourism-supported jobs that cannot be exported outside of Santa Monica, and that the occupancy levels and average daily rates of Santa Monica hotels remain some of the strongest in the region.

“The figures from 2016 clearly indicate that the state of Santa Monica’s tourism industry is strong, and that it remains a pillar of Santa Monica’s local economy. Ensuring that it continues to do so will be of utmost importance in the wake of a tumultuous year of unprecedented political situations and economic uncertainty,” noted SMTT President/CEO Misti Kerns. “As the global community prepares to assess how the travel industry will be affected during this pivotal time, SMTT is determined to ensure that our local community is ready and able to continue to thrive.”

Keynote speaker and Visit California President/CEO Caroline Beteta confirmed that the growth within Santa Monica’s tourism industry and its impact on the local economy is reflective of the state-wide travel industry, which has seen visitation and economic growth for the seventh consecutive year. The state of California saw $126.3 billion in visitor spending 2016; direct travel-generated employment reached 1,096,000.

Beteta also touched on the importance of California continuing to be marketed as a welcoming destination for people from all over the world, noting “California represents a culture of openness, and the world has always looked to the Golden State as a place where all dreams are welcome. By rolling out the red carpet for international visitors, we are ensuring that California remains an inclusive destination for all tourists.”

Panel discussions at the Summit included the topics of: “What’s Next for Our Economy and the Travel Industry,” “What’s Next for California and the Los Angeles Region,” and “What’s Next for Santa Monica” with Mayor Ted Winterer, Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek, and SMTT Chairman Raphael Lunetta.

SMTT also announced the upcoming launch of its new philanthropic program, Santa Monica Cares. The initiative has been created to provide support to local nonprofit agencies, and will be made up of a coalition of representatives from the Santa Monica hospitality industry and the city at large to harness and centralize the extensive service efforts Santa Monica’s tourism community. More information is slated for release in the second half of 2017.

Kat Wells from Santa Monica Free Ride was awarded the Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award during the Summit for her exceptional service in the hospitality industry. Wells was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a Santa Monica staycation, provided by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and SMTT. To learn more about the Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award and to submit nominations, visit

City of Santa Monica’s Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek was the recipient of SMTT’s new annual Tourism Champion of the Year award. Polachek was honored for her creativity and leadership in fostering a positive visitor experience and Santa Monica community pride. Jeff King and Ellis O’Connor were also recognized during the Summit for their eight years of dedicated service on the SMTT Board of Directors.

To highlight Santa Monica locals’ personal connection to tourism, SMTT invites the city’s residents to share the story of their first visit to Santa Monica by visiting or via social media using the hashtag #SMFirstVisit. A winner will be selected at random on September 1, 2017 to win an Apple iPad mini and Santa Monica-themed prize basket.

About Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For travel and accommodation information or a free copy of the official Visitors Guide, the public can write to the Santa Monica Visitor Center, 2427 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405; call (800) 544-5319 or (310) 393-7593; visit; or email Follow SMTT on Twitter @GoSantaMonica or become a Facebook fan at


Contact: Jackie Alvarez
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism