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New State Budget Invests $95 Million to Accelerate California Tourism Recovery

State tourism marketing funding represents nation’s largest post-pandemic stimulus effort

SACRAMENTO (July 13, 2021) – The new state budget agreed upon by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers includes $95 million in one-time stimulus to boost California’s tourism economy. The funds will directly support Visit California’s domestic marketing efforts as California communities begin to welcome back visitors from both in and out of state.

The funding represents the largest stimulus investment of its kind in the country as California looks to compete with other destinations across the nation. Visit California will use the funds to extend its in-state marketing efforts, including its “Calling All Californians” campaign, and expand its reach nationwide with four new campaigns aimed at inspiring visitors to return to the Golden State.

“California’s travel and hospitality industry is grateful to Gov. Newsom and the Legislature for including $95 million in one-time stimulus funding to jump-start tourism marketing and hasten the recovery of the Golden State’s tourism economy in the wake of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic,” said Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta.

“California’s tourism industry has invested more than $1 billion to promote the California brand globally over the last 15 years. This year it faced going dark, as the pandemic slowed visitation and depleted available marketing funds,” Beteta continued. “The stimulus in the state budget allows California to continue marketing across the United States for the next year, allowing the industry to reclaim market share and reestablish itself as one of the state’s most reliable job producers. It is truly a game changer.”

Initial projections from SMARInsights estimate that the state’s $95 million stimulus investment will create more than 330,000 new jobs in California and generate more than $35 billion in revenue from visitors.

"Bringing visitors back to California and encouraging Californians to rediscover their home state will provide a much-needed lifeline to California’s small businesses, many of which are still struggling to recover from the pandemic,” said Gene Zanger, Visit California board chair and partner in Casa de Fruta. “This stimulus funding will empower our state to accelerate the recovery timeline for California’s tourism industry and for communities throughout the state whose residents and businesses depend heavily on travel spending.”

The stimulus will allow Visit California to vastly expand its advertising outreach to domestic travelers in California and across the United States. About two thirds of the money will go to extend existing advertising programs that would have expired for lack of funds -- “Calling All Californians,” “California Road Trip Republic” and “What if, California.”

In addition, the stimulus will allow:

  • A nearly $20 million investment in campaigns to promote culinary tourism and family travel in the Golden State, including to winter sports destinations.
  • A new emphasis on promoting travel to California’s urban cores, which were particularly hard hit by the impact of Covid-19.
  • A dedicated $4.5 million investment to bring back business and group travel — a first for the statewide organization and a key element of recovery for urban destinations.
  • A robust co-op program allowing destination marketing organizations in all corners of California to team up with Visit California to maximize the power of their locally funded programs by two and half times via a 50% match, free creative production and steeply discounted media rates.


Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor’s Guide, go to VisitCalifornia.com. For story ideas, media information, downloadable images, video and more, go to media.visitcalifornia.com.

Media Contact:
Angie Pappas
Director, Public Relations
(503) 218-8596