Five Reasons to be Thankful for Tourism

With the new year in full swing, it’s a great time to set new goals and reflect on all we are grateful for. Those of us who work, play and live in Santa Monica often feel thankful for our friendly and caring residents, glorious climate, casual beach atmosphere, and engaging neighborhoods, not to mention the amenities our world-class destination offers with nearly 500 restaurants, 40 hotels, unique retail and service options, award winning public transportation options and glorious sunsets – all of which we share with visitors that we welcome from around the world to our shores.

In fact, nearly 50 percent of our visitors are of international origin. This provides those of us who live here with a more diverse community and many needed economic benefits – how else does tourism serve our community? Here are a handful of ways tourism supports Santa Monica.


The hospitality and leisure industry is one of the largest and strongest economic sectors in the region. When visitors spend their money at our local businesses, this creates jobs that many Santa Monica residents depend on for their livelihoods. In fact, Santa Monica’s tourism industry generates approximately 13,300 local jobs- travel jobs that are non-exportable jobs, with a unique capacity for career advancement.

“Travel: America’s Unsung Hero of Job Creation” analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to showcase the significant economic power of the travel industry in America—particularly the quality of the industry’s jobs, and the large number that are created by small businesses. In fact, the study sites that the leisure and hospitality sector, which is heavily dependent on travel, is the No. 1 small business employer in the United States.

For the past 40 years, Perry’s Café and Beach Rentals, a string of outdoor cafes and retail businesses that parallel our ocean waves, has largely been fueled by out-of-town visitors looking to enjoy the pleasures Santa Monica beaches have to offer, said owner and SMTT board member Richard Chacker.

“Not only do tourists keep the wheels spinning at Perry’s, visitors also bring strong economic value and local jobs to our community,” he said.


Tourism supports Santa Monica businesses who offer our residents and visitors a broad array of choices with world-class and locally-made and grown products.

Raphael Lunetta, owner of Lunetta Dining Room and Bar and the more casual Lunetta All Day, said that balance of customers is essential to keeping the doors open at his pair of eateries that welcome both residents and visitors.

“Tourism is essential,” said Lunetta, who also serves as the Chair of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s board. “It starts more with building the reputation locally, then we can better attract visitors. I believe that informed visitors want to go where the locals go.”


Many of the wonderful resources that residents of the city of Santa Monica receive are made possible in large part by tax dollars collected from tourists. In 2016, visitor spending injected $1.87 billion into our local economy with retail taxes on visitor spending adding an additional $11.8 million to the City’s coffers. Our hotels play an important part in our economic viability as Transient Occupancy Tax collected by our hotels contributed $50.9 million to the Santa Monica general fund last year.

“Our quality of life is supported in great measure by tourism,” observed Chacker. “These tax dollars go to work in our community, helping to fund the police and fire departments, our schools, maintain the beautiful parks that fill our city, and more.”


Santa Monica is truly an international destination. Of the 8.4 million visitors who came to Santa Monica last year, nearly half came from overseas. Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and Brazil rounded out the top countries of origin for international travelers in 2016.

Chacker noted that the presence of all these varied cultures infuses our city with a cosmopolitan vibe and is part of what makes Santa Monica a unique and interesting place to call home

“That multicultural experience makes us more diverse and worldly and helps to make the world a smaller, friendlier place,” he added.


Travelers who enjoy their time in Santa Monica share their stories with their friends and families over social media and in person, spreading the world and helping tourism provide for the city of Santa Monica and its residents. In fact, many new residents and businesses who relocate to our city are attracted by these stories and now, are proud to call Santa Monica home.

“Santa Monica has been recognized as one of the country’s best beach-city destinations,” said Lunetta. “We have the outdoors, parks with a view, hiking, biking, surfing and swimming with friendly locals. Our hotels and restaurants are some of the best. And we have diverse neighborhoods with small businesses that each have their own unique feel. If a visitor comes here and has a pleasant experience, their social media stories can be quite effective in persuading others to come.”

Or as Chacker put it: “When travelers go home, they take that experience with them, and become ambassadors for Santa Monica’s brand.”

So whether you’re a business owner, an employee, or a resident who is presented with the opportunity to enjoy all the benefits that living in a world-class travel destination provides, take a moment in 2018 to be thankful. I know we are!

Here are a handful of ways tourism supports Santa Monica. —

Travel: America’s Unsung Hero of Job Creation —


Your invited to share how you spend a winter day at our popular and beloved Santa Monica Pier. Post on social media from your favorite Pier businesses for a chance to win a highly-coveted pair of tickets to the Film Independent Spirit Award held at Santa Monica Beach on Saturday, March 3, 2018. The Film Independent Spirit Awards have called Santa Monica home for over 30 years – now’s your chance to get A-list access.

To enter, simply post your photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook from your favorite Santa Monica Pier business using #SMPierWinter AND #SpiritAwards showing how you spend the winter months beachside in Santa Monica.

See full details at