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Tourist spending in SLO County grows to $1.58 billion 

2015 tourism spending reaches highest number yet at $510 million

Photo from visitsanluisobispocounty.com.

Photo from visitsanluisobispocounty.com.

–Visit San Luis Obispo County will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week on Friday, May 6, to recognize the local and national impact of tourism, a $1.58 billion industry in San Luis Obispo County. Tourism partners, dignitaries and elected officials will come together at the Fremont Theatre at 1 p.m. for the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Exchange, followed by a reception at the San Luis Obispo Mission de Tolosa Gardens.

Tourism has been growing at a 4-percent rate over 2014, a 14-percent increase from the previous years’ growth rate, according to a report created by Dean Runyan Associates 2016 Travel Research. Industry earnings generated by travel and tourism spending reached its highest number yet, at $510 million, in 2015, an increase of $40 million from 2014. Jobs also increased at 4.5-percent over 2014. Total tourism-related jobs in San Luis Obispo County reached an all-time high of 17,870 persons employed, an increase of 760 jobs in 2015, making up 10.4-percent of total employment in the County. Positions include divisions of accommodations, food service, arts, entertainment, recreation, retail, and transportation. Local and State Tax Receipts totaled $132 million in revenue generated by travel spending, reflecting a 6-percent and 1.5-percent increase over 2014 respectively. San Luis Obispo County also recorded an 8.6% average increase in Transient Occupancy Tax for 2015.

“It’s exciting to see the continued growth and economic impact of tourism in San Luis Obispo County,” said Chuck Davison, president & CEO of Visit San Luis Obispo County. “With the formation of the new Tourism Marketing District, Visit San Luis Obispo County is unifying the county brand and promoting our unique lodging mix. Our goal is to increase awareness and grow the average length of stay, supporting local business throughout San Luis Obispo County.”

San Luis Obispo County is also undergoing many additions to lodging properties and retail space, as well as numerous renovations. “The economic impact of tourism in San Luis Obispo County can also be seen in the development of new properties and renovations occurring throughout the county over the next few years,” said Davison.

San Luis Obispo County is poised to see a dozen new properties and developments in the next few years, including the Hotel Sierra and China Town Development in San Luis Obispo, and two new hotels in Pismo Beach. In the past year, the region has already seen two new properties come into market, the 4-Star Allegretto in Paso Robles and the Springhill Suites in Atascadero, offering over 300 additional rooms to the county. These additions are crucial to the increased demand for hotel rooms in the county, “In particular, the San Luis Obispo County hotel market is currently operating at historically high occupancy levels,” said Brandon Feighner, director, CBRE Hotels, Valuation and Advisory Services. “Relative to comparable wine country destinations, San Luis Obispo County remains under supplied in terms of available accommodations.” Feighner will be presenting information from the recent PKF San Luis Obispo County lodging forecast study at the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Exchange on May 6.

National Travel and Tourism Week is now in its 33rd year. Communities nationwide will unite to showcase the impact of travel with rallies, events and other activities. This year, Visit San Luis Obispo County will be celebrating the event with their annual 2016 San Luis Obispo County Tourism Exchange on Friday, May 6th from 1-5pm at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo. The exchange will offer guests the opportunity to hear the latest industry intelligence and trends from guest speakers, learn from tourism industry experts and network and share strategies with their peers.

For more information on how you can be involved in National Travel & Tourism Week or to attend the 2016 Tourism Exchange, contact Visit San Luis Obispo County at info@visitsanluisobispocounty.com.

For a travel guide to San Luis Obispo County, see the San Luis Obispo County Visitors Guide.

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