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Napa Valley tourism spending jumps 15.4%, visits rise 8.9%

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Napa Valley tourism by the numbers

$53 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue generated by visitors staying in lodging.

$18 million in property taxes paid by lodging to local governments

$14 million in sales tax generated by visitors for local jurisdictions

Total: $85.1 million in tax relief for the community (5.8% increase from 2016)

Source: Visit Napa Valley

It’s been a busy year for Visit Napa Valley, one filled with change, most notably the retirement of President and CEO Clay Gregory and the hiring of Linsey Gallagher, who took the helm earlier this year.

At its annual conference, held Sept. 19 at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, Gallagher discussed strategic moves made this year and plans going forward.

She detailed the organization’s change in focus from marketing the valley, to promoting the region from a management standpoint that includes not only its hospitality businesses but also the residents and community.

“(Our) mission is to promote, protect and enhance Napa Valley as a dynamic place to visit, live and work,” Gallagher said.

Within the industry, Visit Napa Valley went from being what’s known as a destination marketing organization to a destination management organization. Sonoma County Tourism made a similar change this year.

Gallagher noted that visitor spending last year within the Napa Valley increased by 15.4%, which outpaced visitor growth of 8.9% (or nearly double) from 2016.

Moving forward, among the Napa tourism group’s key objectives for fiscal 2020-2022, is what it calls “strategic tourism,” which targets growth both by promoting travel to Napa Valley during the off-peak season, from November through April, as well as mid-week travel. The organization also refers to off-peak season as “needs season.”

Long-range plans include an emphasis on collaborative efforts that supports workforce and housing initiatives.

One of those endeavors now underway is Visit Napa Valley’s involvement with Napa Valley Forward, a two-year initiative aimed at reducing traffic, primarily in the congested areas of Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, Gallagher told the Business Journal in July. Visit Napa Valley, along with Napa Valley Vintners, each contributed $125,000 in matching funds to support the first phase of the public-private partnership, which also includes the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Napa Valley Transportation Authority.

Visit Napa Valley also plans to improve its internal data and analytic capabilities, which will help the area’s hospitality-focused businesses better target and manage their growth, Gallagher said.

“Through the benefits of tourism, we strengthen the community’s economic position and provide opportunities for our residents,” she said.

To that end, the organization will be working to promote tourism to the local community, as she previously told the Business Journal.

“It’s 16,000 jobs in the community, $85 million to the general funds in the county and at the city level,” Gallagher said, adding that a typical property owner’s tax bill would be $2,000 higher without tourism. “Tourism dollars is a big chunk of what it takes to make this community run.”

Also speaking at the conference were Erik Burrow, chairman, Visit Napa Valley board of directors; Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza; and Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer and foundation executive director, Destinations International, which represents tourism-based organizations and convention and visitor bureaus.

Staff Writer Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and education. Reach her at cheryl.sarfaty@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4259.

Napa Valley tourism by the numbers

$53 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue generated by visitors staying in lodging.

$18 million in property taxes paid by lodging to local governments

$14 million in sales tax generated by visitors for local jurisdictions

Total: $85.1 million in tax relief for the community (5.8% increase from 2016)

Source: Visit Napa Valley

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