California tourism chiefs believe the state is well-placed to outperform other areas of the US and will not see a significant downturn in visitor numbers from the UK this year.
Many parts of the US are forecasting significant drops in UK visitor numbers as the combination of exchange rates, uncertainty around Brexit and the effect of president Trump’s controversial travel ban hits demand.
However, Visit California is predicting only a 0.7% drop in visitors from the UK & Ireland, believing demand and increased airlift will still tempt customers to head to the west coast.
Speaking during a travel trade ‘mission’ to the UK, Visit California chief executive Caroline Beteta said the state was to some extent immune from an association with the rest of the US, and concerns about how welcoming the country is under the Trump administration.
To reiterate the message, Visit California is spending $42 million on its All Dreams Welcome marketing campaign across 13 source markets.
“California is almost a country in itself, with a clearly-defined persona,” she said.
“The All Dreams Welcome message wouldn’t be sustainable if it wasn’t authentic and genuine, and people who visit are sharing that with the friends and families which is helping us.”
She added: “We have been the benefactor of a tremendous lift in air capacity, and that doesn’t happen without demand and interest in those routes.
“The value message is also strong, as we have so much natural beauty and assets that aren’t affected by currency. An incredible beach is an incredible beach, whether you are staying in a five-star property or travelling on a budget.”
A delegation of California tourism representatives is visiting Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow this week, reiterating the importance of regions outside London for travel to the state.
They also updated the UK trade on the current situation on Highway 1, the iconic coast road which is currently partially closed due to a damaged bridge and a mudslide caused by heavy rain.
Beteta said: “Highway 1 is over 600 miles long and the affected section is only 45 miles. Both the northern and southern sections of the road remain open, and those wishing to complete the entire route can take a diversion via Highway 101 which is a classic California experience in its own right.”
The damaged bridge is expected to be rebuilt by September, with the area affected by the mudslide expected to be closed for “several months to a year”.
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