A Year In Review FY21/22
Inspiring Travel to California
Visit California has worked furiously to inspire travel and accelerate recovery by innovating around consumer research and marketing, doubling down on sustainability and stewardship initiatives, and rallying the industry.
This year brought unprecedented opportunities with California’s $95 million state stimulus investment in tourism marketing. This supplement to the industry’s investment kept advertising on air and made possible a full 52-week, “always-on” marketing strategy that yielded a record $17.1 billion return on advertising spend in 2021.
This work, guided by the industry, is helping the industry achieve a full recovery and power through the challenges of tomorrow.
A Wave of Inspiration
The Golden State’s abundance of unique experiences inspired consumers to reimagine what’s possible in California.
‘What If, California’
This refreshed campaign returned to the airwaves featuring additional gateway city destinations. The “What If” brand was also adapted to promote family snow travel and integrated into select international campaigns.
‘Am I Dreaming?’
“Am I Dreaming?” is one of the highest profile campaign launches to date, premiering just before kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday. The talents of “Blackish” star Anthony Anderson, TV host and actor Mario Lopez and San Francisco Giants All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford add celebrity sizzle to the larger-than-life creative, set to Queen's megahit "Don't Stop Me Now."
‘California Road Trip Republic’
The “Born to be Wild” spot continued to invite travelers to enjoy the ultimate destination to find transformation through transportation. Road trips remained a staple with consumers reluctant to fly, but were also a big draw for visitors arriving by plane looking to chart an adventure on California’s scenic roadways.
‘Parents Love It’
“Kidifornia” appealed to families with kids, who spend on average 56% more, by spotlighting kid-friendly experiences that adults love too. The national “Parents Love It” TV spot highlighted outdoor activities and many of the state’s newest theme park attractions.
‘Calling All Californians’
This in-state campaign encouraged Californians to spend their dollars in state. As Californians gained travel choices, the rallying cry to keep vacations in California to bolster the state’s economy remained an important and effective call to action.
Paid Advertising Co-ops
Cooperative marketing programs expanded the reach of destinations and amplified the California brand with 50% matching dollars and free creative support.
Return of Live Events
California’s tourism industry reunited in-person for meetings, Outlook Forum, trade shows, media events, international missions and stakeholder engagements.
More than 600 industry members met for two days of Outlook Forum conference programming in San Francisco, capped by the biennial Poppy Awards industry gala. Watch a recap of the event.
President & CEO Caroline Beteta meets with labor representatives and lawmakers at Visit California’s Orange County tourism roundtable.
California Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva, former chair of the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media participates in Visit California’s October tourism roundtable in Orange County.
Commencing Sugar Bear’s journey from Sacramento: USDA Forest Service Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien, President & CEO Caroline Beteta, Santa Claus, California Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and State Sen. Mike McGuire.
At the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony: Choose Outdoors President Bruce Ward, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President & CEO Caroline Beteta, USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, and Chef Melissa King.
President & CEO Caroline Beteta applauds as Board Chair Gene Zanger performs a stunt learned at his family’s famous Casa de Fruta restaurant during Coffee with Caroline at Outlook Forum.
Derek Kirk, community based solutions supervisor from Go-Biz, asks Siskiyou’s Economic Development Executive Director Tonya Dowse and San Francisco Travel President & CEO and Board Vice Chair Joe D’Alessandro how residents and the tourism industry can tackle the issues in their communities.
Jazmin Griffith, ICUC director of social insights, and Matador Network Founder & CEO Ross Borden share strategies for working with content creators to promote tourism.
Managing directors from Visit California’s international offices share their expertise in a lively “Around the World” roundtable in front of a packed ballroom set the stage to bring back international travelers to the Golden State.
Intensive educational sessions were broken up by California food and wine tastings and celebrations of San Francisco culture at Outlook Forum 2022.
Chair Gene Zanger leads Visit California Board of Directors in an oath of office pledging to serve California’s tourism industry.
Visit California Board Chief Fiscal Officer and Ridgemont Hospitality CEO Sima Patel, Visit SLO CAL President & CEO Chuck Davison and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development & Senior Advisor Dee Dee Myers celebrate the tourism industry’s success.
Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John accept the California Dreamer Award for their pioneering work in California wine and creating opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
Visit Concord took home a coveted Poppy Awards statuette for the Best Influencer Campaign.
Industry members attend a networking event at the Ontario Welcome Center.
Industry members attend a networking event at the Fairfield Welcome Center.
Food Network chef Jet Tila prepares kid-friendly sushi at the launch of Base Camp California in New York City.
Professional planners in Minneapolis learn about California venues and event opportunities at a “Taste of California” roadshow.
A delegation of California tourism leaders personally welcomed back Mexican travelers and tourism businesses.
President & CEO Caroline Beteta joined executive leadership from Hollywood, Los Angeles and San Francisco for the CEO track at Brand USA’s Travel Week.
Destination partners networked with media and content creators at the Los Angeles Media Event.
Visit California hosted the California Pavilion at IMM USA in New York City.
At the California Caucus in advance of IPW Orlando, Visit California’s international marketing directors joined President & CEO Caroline Beteta to deliver in-market international insights to California industry partners.
The California Luxury Forum delivered an idyllic tour of the Presidio for international luxury travel buyers against a backdrop of perfect San Francisco weather.
Supporting an Industrywide Recovery
Domestic marketing campaigns created a 60% lift on likelihood to visit in fall 2021 and 105% in spring 2022, according to an independent analysis by SMARInsights. This resulted in a record $17.1 billion ad-influenced travel spending, exceeding prepandemic records and greatly accelerating the industry's economic recovery.
‘Meet what’s Possible’
The organization’s first dedicated B2B platform is bringing back professional meetings and events to California destinations that depend on group travel.
A year-round series of trade show activations, dedicated “Taste of California” roadshows and paid marketing delivered a “Meet what’s Possible” message and promoted California’s abundant and diverse venues to professional planners around the country.
Restoring Gateway Tourism
A new urban core paid campaign layer was launched to accelerate the recovery of gateways.
‘Up All Night’
The series, in partnership with Matador Network, follows director and content creator Cole Walliser as he and his friends explore California gateway cities from dusk to dawn.View series
‘Dive Bars & Five Stars’
In partnership with Tastemade, Visit California created this series of bingeable, snack-sized episodes where the hosts search for the best urban eats at all price points.View series
This video series unearths unexpected experiences from surfing dog competitions to graveyard date nights with a focus on younger generations, young parents and the young at heart.View series
Welcoming Back World Travelers
As global travel resumes and travel restrictions are lifted, welcoming back international travelers is a top priority for Visit California and essential to a full recovery. Over the last year, efforts focused on markets with the largest potential, which included Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the U.K. The year ahead will allow marketing in 14 global markets.
Travel Spending Forecast
Visit California tourism marketing greatly increased visitation, shortening recovery. The latest economic forecast from Tourism Economics predicts a complete economic recovery in 2023 — a year earlier than projected in 2021.
California Tourism on the Rebound
California’s resilient tourism industry outpaced travel spending forecasts but still faces some economic headwinds on the road to a full, statewide recovery.
Gateway cities have faced a steeper uphill climb out of the pandemic due to slower recovery of international visitation and professional meetings and events — areas where Visit California has increased marketing efforts.
- $100.2B Visitor Spending (+46.3% YOY)
- $9.8B State and Local Tax Revenue
- 927100 Jobs
Expenditures & Impact
According to an audit, 95.1% of Visit California’s budget goes directly to marketing programs, with 4.9% going to operational costs. Nonprofit organizations average between 20% and 35% toward operational costs.
By the Numbers
Marketing activity across paid, owned, earned media and travel trade channels accelerated recovery, increased brand awareness and brand health, and increased travel spending in every state region.
- Earned Media
- Travel Trade
- $95M Investment
- 5.4B Impressions
- 105.2M Households reached
- 18.3M Unique visitors to VISITCALIFORNIA.COM
- 3M Social media followers
- 600+ New Content Pieces
- 21M E-newsletters sent
- 4.5M Partner handoffs
- 150,000 Podcast downloads
- 1500 Placements
- 60 Influencers hosted
- 2B Global Impressions
- 28.9M Estimated influencer reach
- 67 Media hosted
- 1200+ Travel advisor appointments
- 11 Events attended
- 4000+ Travel advisor database
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FY21/22 Annual Report
Visit California produces a more comprehensive version of this annual report. Download or request a full-length print copy.DOWNLOAD REPORT
FY22/23 Marketing Plan
Visit California’s strategic planning document, including insights vision and direction for the fiscal year ahead.DOWNLOAD REPORT