A new Bi-Weekly Column sharing the stories behind Tourism in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is thrilled to launch this new bi-weekly column with stories from residents, City leaders, small business owners – and even some of Santa Monica’s loyal visitors about their personal Santa Monica experience and how tourism plays a role in it. The launch of this column is also in celebration of the 24th Annual National Travel and Tourism Week, which kicked off May 7.


During the week, with many cities throughout the United States are hosting events to highlight how reliant the U.S. economy is on the travel industry, an economic powerhouse that brought in nearly a trillion dollars in visitor spending, and supported 15.3 million American jobs in 2016. Hospitality and tourism outperformed the aggregate of all other traded cluster export sectors since 1998, with employment expanding nearly 10% while all others shrank 1%.


Destination marketing is a serious engine to drive job creation and economic growth through travel and tourism, acting as a catalyst of economic development in a broader sense by sustaining/creating jobs, creating familiarity, attracting decision makers and new investments, and in many ways, improving the quality of life for Santa Monica residents.

In fact, 2015, posted visitor spending growth injected $1.84 billion into our local economy, providing more than $58 million directly into the city’s general fund. It also supported about 13,500 jobs, the vast majority of which cannot be outsourced to other places.

SMTT’s main message for National Travel & Tourism Week is “When Was Your First Visit?” emphasizing the idea that many of today’s Santa Monica residents were once visitors. We want to hear about your first visit to Santa Monica – when was it? What drew you here? What made you decide to move here? And if you were lucky enough to be born in Santa Monica (like my daughter Kalei), share your story as to where you take visiting friends and family? What’s your favorite thing to see and do? To submit your story, visit www.santamonicatourism.com and you may see your story featured!

Santa Monica Mayor and 25-year resident Ted Winterer shared this thought about his first time coming to the City in 1986: “I was a struggling writer looking to limit my expenses so I didn’t rent a car. I was pretty naive about the state of mass transit in the region at the time so I wound up mostly walking to the beach every day from my friend’s apartment on 5th Street. Not the worst way to spend five days, but the City and the region have come a long way since then with greatly enhanced transit and other mobility options.”


Mayor Winterer is right – the City and the region have made it so much easier to explore the Los Angeles without a car, but exploring car-free is nothing new to Santa Monica’s visitors. A sneak peak at 2016 research shows that 81% of visitors walked to get around Santa Monica. And in a survey specifically of Santa Monica’s hotel guests, the number one reason they chose to book a Santa Monica hotel over other areas in the LA region was the ability to walk to activities and attractions.


Santa Monica Travel & Tourism will cap off National Travel and Tourism Week on Friday, May 12th at its 8th annual Tourism Summit. SMTT will release full 2016 figures of visitor spending at the Tourism Summit, but the program will also include breakfast and networking, exhibition tables featuring local Business Improvement Districts and cultural institutions, awards presentations and three future-focused panels of experts, answering:

  • “What’s Next for Santa Monica?”
  • “What’s Next for California and the Los Angeles Region?”
  • “What’s Next for the Economy and the Travel Industry?”



Event details:

Date: Friday, May 12, 8:00 a.m. to noon

Location: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica

More Information: www.santamonica.com/summit-invite



Please bring your gently used business attire to the Tourism Summit for donation to Chrysalis, a local nonprofit dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals.