Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Tony Vazquez shook hands and snapped photos with tourists as well as residents with visiting friends and family at the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (SMCVB) Information Kiosk on Wednesday morning.
He was at the kiosk located at Palisades Park (1400 block) to help celebrate the start of the 32nd annual National Travel and Tourism Week, a week for highlighting the importance of tourism to Santa Monica.
“Tourism is one of the economic engines of Santa Monica,” Vazquez said. “And without tourism we wouldn’t be able to fund many of the social programs the city loves to support like our homeless shelter, youth centers, and supporting the public school system here.”
Other important city services that are aided by tourism through tax revenues are parks, infrastructure, and the police and fire departments.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to provide assistance to the public schools and much of it comes from the TOT [Transient Occupancy Tax] that comes from tourism and the sales tax from tourists,” Vazquez said.
TOT from hotels generated more than $42 million to the City of Santa Monica’s general fund in 2013. Without tourism dollars, each Santa Monica household would pay an additional $1,108 annually to have the services Santa Monica provides its residents, according to SMCVB.
“This is the week of tourism, so for the whole week we’re going to have different events throughout the city celebrating tourism in Santa Monica,” Vazquez said.
SMCVB CEO/President Misti Kerns said many members of her team live in Santa Monica and have witnessed first-hand the direct benefits of tourism including the countless Santa Monica businesses and jobs that are touched by the economic activity visitors bring.
“Our mission is strategically focused on attracting visitors who bring the most economic benefits to Santa Monica with the least environmental impacts,” Kerns said. “However, it is exciting to think that the tourism halo effect may also be elevating Santa Monica’s reputation and spreading the long-term benefits of broader economic development across other industry sectors.”
On Thursday, May 14, SMCVB will continue the celebrations with its 6th annual Travel and Tourism Summit at the Fairmont Hotel & Bungalows.
During the event, SMCVB will release results from the 2014 Santa Monica Tourism Economic Impact Study, provide an update on its five-year strategic plan, discuss the future outlook of the city’s travel landscape and unveil the destination brand “Refresh.”
Key speakers will include Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, Visit California CEO/President Caroline Beteta, and representatives from SMCVB’s international agency partners.
Two breakout sessions will be held after the main program focusing on “Where in the world is…Santa Monica CVB: how SMCVB is strategically reaching the trade, media and consumers” and “Developing Customer-Centric Digital Experiences.”