Business

SLO County tourism generated 400 new jobs, $1.58 billion in 2016

The Morro Bay Kite Festival in April 2016 attracted thousands. In 2016, tourists generated $1.58 billion in direct travel spending on such items as plane tickets, hotel rooms, food, gas and entertainment, up more than $10 million from 2015.
The Morro Bay Kite Festival in April 2016 attracted thousands. In 2016, tourists generated $1.58 billion in direct travel spending on such items as plane tickets, hotel rooms, food, gas and entertainment, up more than $10 million from 2015. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Tourism continues to drive the local economy.

Last year, tourist dollars led to the creation of more than 400 new jobs in San Luis Obispo County, and tourists generated $1.58 billion in direct travel spending on such items as plane tickets, hotel rooms, food, gas and entertainment, up more than $10 million from 2015.

Visit California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting tourism in the state, also found that tourists spent more money on lodging, food, arts and entertainment, and recreation, according to its 2016 California travel impacts report, released Thursday.

Only a few categories, such as travel ($55 million), local transportation and gas ($148 million) and retail sales ($265 million), saw slight decreases from the previous year.

Brooke Burnham, vice president of marketing for Visit San Luis Obispo County, said the numbers released by Visit California offer a broad view of tourism’s local economic impact.

“Visit SLO County is cautiously optimistic about the continued growth of the local economy and of tourism being a large impact to that success,” she said.

More tourism revenue also meant more tax revenue.

In 2016, the county added $3 million in local tax receipts for a total of $62 million. This included transient occupancy tax (also known as bed tax), sales tax and airport passenger facility fees paid by visitors, and property and sales tax revenue attributable to the travel industry income of employees and business.

Jim Hamilton, assistant county auditor and controller, said that tourism revenue is a small but growing percentage of the county’s overall revenue.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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