Where Visitors Spent Billions Last Year

By Dr. Kenneth Harwood

Visitors to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties spent some $4.5 billion here last year. Their spending in the three counties looked like this:

– Santa Barbara: $1.771

– San Luis Obispo: $1.371

– Ventura: $1.333

Total: $4.475

Of the nearly $4.5 billion, Santa Barbara County accounted for the largest share, almost $1.8 billion.

The local and state taxes on travel-generated spending in Santa Barbara County works out to $1,230 per household for every one of the 149,400 households.

Long-term growth of visitor spending in Santa Barbara County was 3.7 percent a year from 1994 through 2016. Spending in this county was up 4.5 percent between 2015 and 2016, well above the long-term rate of growth, and much above the 3.1 percent growth of spending in California from 2015 to 2016.

A visitor is a person who is 50 or more miles away from home.

Visitor spending (destination spending) was spending on goods and services at the destination. Transportation spending such as for airline tickets was separate from the amounts in the table above. Air travel increased faster than travel by road.

The largest spending was for food and accommodation, followed by transportation, recreation, and retail purchases, including gasoline. Gambling was part of recreation expenses.

For more information, go online to Visit California, Travel Impacts by County 1992-2016, Damon Runyan Associates, May 2017.

Dr. Kenneth Harwood is the economist for the Solvang Chamber of Commerce.