Santa Monica Travel Summit Of 2022 Returns To Take On Tomorrow

The Event Was Held At The Jonathan Club On Santa Monica Beach

By Staff Writer

The 2022 Santa Monica Tourism Summit was set on restoring a vibrant and thriving Santa Monica occurred on the beach at the iconic Jonathan Beach Club on Wednesday, May 4.

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s 13th annual program brought nearly 250 attendees the opportunity for a toes-in-the-sand informative experience. Program highlights included a travel outlook for Santa Monica, Los Angeles and California.

Caroline Beteta, Visit California President and CEO, and Erin Francis-Cummings, President and CEO of Destination Analysts, offered insights into international and domestic travel. Wendy Kheel and Lauren Schlau, expert presenters, shared tourism trends and insights. Santa Monica City Manager David White, Police Chief Ramon Batista, Fire Chief Danny Alvarez joined a robust panel moderated by Santa Monica College President Dr. Kathryn Jeffrey.

The Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award and the Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year were also announced. During the summit, Schlau presented a review of Santa Monica in 2021 that showed signs of recovery with 2021 visitor volume, days, spending, taxes, and jobs that rose from 2020.

Schlau added that Santa Monica’s successful tourism industry was comprised of 51% international visitors in 2019, which fell to 24.9% in 2020, but with a low 9% share of international travelers in 2021.

While increasing international visitation remained the primary objective, a steady tourism recovery in 2021 was focused on a drive market strategy with reach into California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

“Bringing international travel back to Santa Monica is crucial to the overall recovery process in 2022 and beyond,” said Albin Gielicz, Board Chair, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. “It’s also incumbent on Santa Monica as a destination to continue to target the drive market and recapture the meetings and events business to support Santa Monica tourism.”

The tourism research showed that overall visitor spending in 2021 supported 5,747 local jobs, up 86% over 3,100 jobs in 2020. Thus, Santa Monica tourism showed signs of recovery, but lacking significant international and business visitation, is slower – but will be steady, if COVID stays contained, countries open for out-bound tourism and consumers trust that they can travel safely.

“The research shows and the trends indicate that Santa Monica is headed in the right direction after two very challenging years trying to sustain and grow tourism in our city,” said David White, City Manager, City of Santa Monica. “We continue to monitor current events and look optimistically toward an increase in visitors and a rebound for local businesses.”

SMTT announced the recipients of the “Thelma Parks Spirit Award,” which in partnership with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, honors an extraordinary employee in the Santa Monica tourism industry, and the “Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year” award that Honors an individual or organization who demonstrates creativity and leadership while fostering the positive experience of visitors and Santa Monica community pride.

The 2022 “Thelma Parks Tourism Spirit Award” honoree is Darius Smiley, Guest Services Agent, Le Meridien Delfina Hotel, and the “Jeff King Santa Monica Tourism Champion of the Year” honoree is Jennifer Taylor, Economic Development Manager, City of Santa Monica.

“National Travel and Tourism week is the first week of May. An annual celebration of our industry and specifically Santa Monica’s tourism employees and all that our industry offers for our local businesses, economy, individual well-being and incredible experiences. This was one of our first in-person events as we move beyond the pandemic and into a successful recovery period both domestically and internationally,” said Misti Kerns, President and CEO of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. “The annual Tourism Summit also provides an opportunity to showcase Santa Monica residents and businesses who exemplify the amazing tourism experience.”

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