By Marc Lutz
Business Journal Editor
“Let’s go. Let’s find our way to Stockton.”
That’s the tagline on a tourism video produced by Visit Stockton and shared at Wednesday’s 2017 Visit Stockton Tourism Breakfast and Awards event.
The event highlighted the successful endeavors of the tourism bureau over the past year, and honored those people and organizations that helped to boost, boast and laud the benefits of the Port City as a destination.
“If you build a place where people want to visit, you’ll build a place where people want to live,” said Visit Stockton CEO Wes Rhea, quoting a colleague in the tourism industry. “If you build a place where people want to live, you’ll build a place where people want to work. If you build a place where people want to work, you’ll build a place where business needs to be. If you build a place where business has to be, you’ll build a place where people have to visit.”
Rhea said Visit Stockton is a part of that economic development circle, and it continues to show record success year after year.
In 2016, Stockton and San Joaquin County booked a record number of visitors, according to Rhea’s organization.
Rhea shared the following statistics at the breakfast.
In California and San Joaquin County in 2016:
- Traveler spending in San Joaquin County grew to a high of $627.2 million, increasing 1.4 percent from 2015.
- Travel and tourism industry employment added 110 new jobs, reaching 7,390 jobs directly related to travel spending in San Joaquin County.
- Local tax revenue grew to a high of $18.3 million, increasing 7.7 percent over 2015.
- The gross domestic product generated by the travel industry in California was $68.6 billion in 2016.
- The state tourism industry accounts for 2.5 percent of the total GDP, yet contributed more than 4.3 percent of the state’s tax revenue in 2016.
In Stockton in 2016:
- Average hotel occupancy for 2016 hit its highest level in over a decade at 66.3 percent, a 4.9 percent increase over 2015.
- Hotel average daily rate for 2016 the highest in Stockton’s history at $79.53, a 6.6 percent increase over 2015.
- Stockton hotel revenue grew to an all-time high of $52.3 million, an 11.8 percent increase over 2015.
- Sporting events supported by Visit Stockton created over $2.7 million in economic impact to the city.
- Hotels produced $2.71 million in transient occupancy taxes for the City of Stockton.
“Of course, what we do benefits everybody in Stockton,” Rhea said. “Just with the hotels’ transient occupancy taxes $2.7 million goes into the General Fund, which improves our libraries, parks, public safety and all the things we enjoy in residents in our quality of life.”
Stockton also became the first destination in California to offer a texting concierge service. It allows visitors to text the organization and find out what’s going in the area. Visit Stockton also unveiled a Super Saver coupon app, allowing mobile users to receive valuable coupons to use at area events. The app is available at their website.
Plenty of other organizations attended the breakfast to show their support for Visit Stockton’s efforts. The Downtown Stockton Alliance was one of those.
“A revitalized downtown is a focal point for tourism, and our downtown is in the midst of revitalization,” said Cindy Fargo, CEO of the Downtown Stockton Alliance. “Visit Stockton is already a supporter of the downtown and the business that comes to Stockton.”
Although the focus was on 2016, Rhea took time to mention some of the events Visit Stockton has coordinated in 2017, chief among those being the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Regional. Stockton’s games were the second highest attendance out of the four cities that hosted the sporting event.
Other events that were touted were Stockton Restaurant Week, Stockton Beer Week and Stockton Arts Week, all of which have continued to draw more attendance.
StocktonCon, a comic and pop culture convention that is held annually at the Stockton Arena, was awarded the Tourism Partner of the Year. The California Collegiate Athletic Association was chosen as the Sports Partner of the Year, and the American East Conference Field Hockey Championships were named Sports Event of the Year.
The Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) of the Year was Wendy Foulks, Captain and Owner of Island Oasis Delta Cruises.
“When you’re here in Stockton on the Delta, it’s a truly unique place,” Foulks said in a video highlighting her service. “We have people coming up all the time from the Bay Area, and they have no idea what we have here. It’s a paradise.”