A yoga session is held at Chateau du Sureau in Oakhurst — an example of wellness tourism. That travel category is expected to hit $1.2 trillion by 2027. Photo by Visit Yosemite.
Written by The Business Journal Staff
A new report on California’s travel-related spending for 2021 was recently released, showing the Central Valley in a steady and noticeable upward trend — falling in line with much of the rest of the state still recovering from the pandemic.
As part of the annual “Economic Impact of Travel in California” report by Dean Runyan Associates, California reported $100.2 billion in travel-related spending in 2021, a 46.3% climb from the previous year’s $68.4 billion — at the height of Covid-related lockdowns.
Travel-related spending includes traveler expenses such as transportation, lodging, meals and other items.
As a whole, the Central Valley region — which includes a large swath of California ranging from Glenn County to Kern County — saw an increase of 60.4%, jumping from $4.5 billion spent in 2020 to $7.5 billion in 2021.
Locally, Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties saw $2.4 billion in travel-related spending in 2021, up from $1.5 billion during the pandemic-sticken 2020.
Fresno County alone reported $1.4 billion in 2021, up from $935 million in 2020, with food service, accommodations and transportation/gas accounting for $848 million, more than half of the $1.4 billion reported spent on travel-related expenses.
Of the remaining three counties, Tulare reported $460.1 million in travel-related spending, while Madera County reported $279.8 million, and Kings County reported $181.4 million in travel-related spending.
Fresno County alone accounted for 13.6% of the region’s spending, which includes sections of other counties including Tuolumne, Mariposa and Tulare.
California saw major growth in air travel as well, with $22.1 million spent, up from $14.1 million during the previous year.
Travel-generated tax revenue also increased by 23.1% in 2021 from the previous year.
Despite the increases in nearly all categories across the board, travel-related spending is still down from its peak year of 2019. Prior to the pandemic, California peaked at $144.9 billion in 2019, compared to the pandemic year which saw the total fall to $68.5 billion.
Overall, California accounted for 11.2% of total spending nationwide, bringing in $100.2 billion of the national total of $894.6 billion.