Terrorism hurts California tourism less than expected Experts predict California will still lose about $4 billion this summer; state spending more than $12 million to promote travel
LOS ANGELES — With the help of ad campaigns urging residents to vacation in their home state, tourism is on the rebound in California after being severely hurt by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Many travel officials predicted in January that overall summer travel this year would be down 9 percent from last year. But those projections have now been adjusted to reflect an anticipated 5 percent drop.
That still means California will collect about $4 billion less in visitor spending, which in 2001 reached $76 billion.
With travel fears gripping the nation after Sept. 11, California tourism officials quickly doled out more than $12 million on a print, radio and television advertising campaign encouraging residents to rediscover their home state.
The “California, Find Yourself Here” campaign debuted with scenic portraits of the state and music designed to inspire family togetherness. The phase 2 “We’re Californians” strategy showcased famous residents Clint Eastwood golfing at Pebble Beach and Jack Nicholson attending a Lakers game.
“We knew we had to do something different, and we had to do it quickly,” said Caroline Beteta, executive director of California Tourism, the state’s tourism agency. “So we went straight for Californians and tried to convince them to vacation in their own backyard.”
By January, requests for travel packets from the state’s tourism Web site jumped 100 percent from the same month last year, and marketing surveys showed that Californians’ awareness about traveling within the state quadrupled, officials said.
Encouraged by the ad campaign results, state officials now plan a third and final advertising phase this month. But this time they will target four key markets just outside California — Portland, Las Vegas, Seattle and Phoenix.
“Some destinations simply never realize how valuable the near-in market can be,” said James Cammisa Jr., an analyst at Travel Industry Indicators in Miami. “Targeting the drive market is the only way to pick up the slack from the loss of foreign travelers.
“The strategy is sound because it recognizes where the consumer’s head is — shorter trips, closer to home.”