Napa Valley tourism continues to be a major economic driver for the county, and to make sure it stays that way, the organization that markets that industry is shifting its focus.
Napa Valley saw an increase of 20 percent in international visitors over the past year, compared with almost 14 percent in 2014, as reported by Visit Napa Valley at the tourism booster’s Annual Sales & Marketing Conference Aug. 10, at the Silverado Resort and Spa.
And statistics show that overseas visitors spend more time and dollars in hotels, versus day-trippers.
Because of that, both Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel and Visit Napa Valley president and CEO Clay Gregory said that emphasis on marketing to international travelers is more important now than ever.
Visitors from China accounted for 5 percent of international visitors last year, and that is where both organizations are devoting extra effort.
The two tourism boosters have intensified their relationship, and Napa Valley has been included in San Francisco Travel’s bilingual digital marketing to China, Germany, and other overseas countries.
“That they are looking at new markets, and how to tell a story of Napa that’s a wine lifestyle, not just wineries, that’s smart. I would applaud them. This gives them the opportunity to continue to be successful,” said William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University.
Visit Napa Valley reported revenue from hotel stays last year totaled $425 million, up from $375 in 2014.
That resulted in a total of $47.4 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) collected in 2016.
In total, taxes from tourism generated $80.4 million for government entities, up 25 percent from 2014.
San Francisco takes in $600 million in taxes from tourist spending, the largest in the state.
D’Alessandro cautioned, however, that despite double-digit growth over the past seven years in tourism in San Francisco, which largely feeds the Napa Valley, that kind of continual uptick is not likely to be sustainable.
“San Francisco is a hot brand globally, but it’s hard to stay in that leadership position. People want to do the next best thing that comes along,” Silver said, and depending on a monolithic economic sector, like tourism, an economy could get into trouble after a while with concentration in one area.
Visit Napa Valley is very in touch with who travels to the region. It regularly conducts extensive surveys of visitors to the area, and pays close attention to what respondents say.
One of the things they said could improve their experience in Napa was more shopping opportunities.
Napa responded with the 40,000-square foot Oxbow Marketplace, and the 45 shops and restaurants that will occupy space at the Archer Hotel when it is completed later this year.
“Napa is looking at what else it has to offer and building more capacity for experiential opportunity,” Silver said. “’What else do we have to offer?’ We’re in a beautiful area with music, culture, spas, so there is a lot to offer without going to the wineries. That portfolio of activities will serve them well.”
Calistoga hosted a number of record-breaking events in 2016, including the annual lighted tractor parade, which drew 15,000 people, up from 11,000 in 2014, reported Chris Canning, mayor and executive director of the chamber of commerce of Calistoga.