TORONTO – Visit California brought a burst of sunny weather to Toronto yesterday during a stop on its North American roadshow. With 14 industry partners along for the ride, the travel and tourism bureau made it their mission to share new offerings for 2016/2017 with members of the media.
In 2015, California welcomed 1.6 million visitors from Canada, which makes the country its #1 international market. This is largely attributed to increased air service, particularly from Air Canada. From 2015-2016, the airline added 10 new flights from Vancouver to San Jose and San Diego, and from Calgary to San Francisco. Air Canada and WestJet together contribute 90 nonstop flights per week to the state.
But despite these strong numbers, tourism does appear to be softening, says Kristen Bonilla, Public Relations Manager, probably due to the low loonie. However, Bonilla is optimistic that numbers will start to rebound, especially in 2017 when a slew of new attractions and promotions are on offer.
Here is a roundup of what’s new:
- Huntington Beach: Otherwise known as Surf City, USA, Huntington, has welcomed the new four-star Pasea hotel and awaits the completion of a newly expanded Hilton hotel in June 2017. This 16-kilometre stretch of beach is located just 40 minutes from Los Angeles and is renowned for its 100-year-old surf culture and “laidback luxury” vibe.
- Temeculah Valley: Although known for having the largest operation of vineyards in Southern California, Annette Brown, Marketing and PR Manager for Visit Temecula Valley says that this region is still being discovered. Already home to 42 wineries that collectively have garnered over 5,000 international wine awards, Temeculah Valley continues to add new wineries, the most recent being the Peltzer Winery, which opened just two weeks ago.
- Disney Parks (Canada): Now’s the time for visitors to experience more magic for less with ‘Magic Morning Early Access.’ Exclusively for Canadians, this offer includes a savings of 25% on 3-Day or Longer Tickets if purchased before Feb. 28, 2017. The offer runs through Dec. 31. In addition, the new ‘Frozen – Live at the Hyperion’ at the Disneyland Resort continues to draw huge crowds.
- Greater Palm Springs: Comprising nine cities in total, this region is located just two hours from Los Angeles and boasts its own international airport. On Dec. 14, it will welcome new service from Toronto with Air Canada. In the pipeline, a new Kimpton with a rooftop pool is slated for completion in early 2017, while a new Andaz hotel is also scheduled to open around the same time. In the city of Palm Springs, the first new-build hotel in 10 years – Arrive Hotel – opened earlier this year.
- Los Angeles: The City of Angels is set to welcome 20 new hotels from now through 2018. The Nomad is scheduled to open at the end of 2017, while the Soho House will open its doors in the arts district in 2018. A new InterContinental will be housed in the Wilshire Grand Building in 2017, adding 900 rooms to the downtown core. Also new is an extended line onboard the Metro Expo, which connects downtown LA to Santa Monica for just US$1.75, one-way.
- Monterey County: Jessica Keener, Communications Manager for Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, calls the county a “place to go for inspiration and rejuvenation.” Located just two hours from San Francisco and 1.5 hours from San Jose, Monterey County is comprised of 11 jurisdictions and is the #1 agricultural region in the U.S. New attractions include Dali17 at the Museum of Monterey, the first permanent Dali exhibition on the West Coast and the largest private collection in the U.S.
- San Diego: Maple Leaf Months is back, giving Canadians more opportunity to see more and save more. Relaunching from November 2017 to February 2018, the program includes discounts for Canadians to a wide range of restaurants and attractions, including Seaworld. All that’s needed is Canadian identification. Plus, every October is Kids Free Month, during which 100-plus partners offer free entry for kids (kidsfreesandiego.org). And in February, Museum Month offers guests half-price entry into over 40 museums.
- Sonoma County Tourism: Just 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma County has welcomed the new Timber Cove Resort. Although primarily known for its wine and vineyards, visitors would be surprised to learn that only 6% of its land is grown for grapes. Even more surprising, Sonoma County is home to 30 breweries.
- Oakland: Located just 12 minutes from San Francisco, Oakland offers visitors a more affordable home base. According to Natalie Alvanez, VP, Marketing and Business Development, hotel rates in Oakland are approximately 30% less than those in San Francisco. The Oakland Marriott City Centre has completed a renovation that includes its interiors, guestrooms and restaurants; it also now boasts an exterior mural created by local artists.