Tourism and hospitality are an integral part of the Sonoma County economy. The tourism industry is one of the largest, private employers in the county, with tourism employment comprising ten percent of the county total. (Source: Sonoma County Indicators, 2016, Abridged.) Government revenue in the form of taxes from tourism is almost $150 million per year.
This revenue is used for things like parks, economic development, cultural and historical festivals and events, affordable housing and other uses. The Sonoma County Economic Development Board produces an excellent report on Transient Occupancy Tax, including where each government entity invests that money: Sonoma County TOT Reports.
TOT Assessment by City:
Sonoma County - 9%
Cloverdale - 10%
Healdsburg - 12%
Petaluma - 10%
Rohnert Park - 12%
Santa Rosa - 9%
Sebastopol - 10%
Sonoma - 10%
Windsor - 12%
Millions of visitors come to Sonoma County annually, and overnight visitors spend $389 per day, less than half of which is typically spent on lodging.
Where do they come from?
Roughly 90% of Sonoma County's visitors are domestic. The 10% of international visitors to Sonoma County mainly hail from Canada, Western Europe, Mexico, and Asia (Australia/NZ plus Japan and Korea.)
In Sonoma County...
• Annual tourism spending is $1.82 billion
• Total taxes (government revenue) collected: $150 million
• Tourism industry employment: 19,710 jobs
Information from Visit California / Dean Runyan and Associates "California Travel Impacts by County" annual report.
See how tourism dollars move through Sonoma County, from the visitor to the restaurant to the farmer to the tax collector with this short, and dare we say entertaining, video: Tourism Pays for Sonoma County.
Snapshot of tourism businesses in Sonoma County:
- 82 percent of Sonoma County tourism businesses are small (fewer than 25 employees)
- 91 percent of tourism businesses are locally owned, only eight percent of these are franchises
- 39 percent have been in business for more than 20 years, 40% have been in business for ten or fewer years
You can meet some of the "Faces of Sonoma County Tourism" and read their stories: Faces of Tourism.
Here's some more good information for the dismal scientist in you:
• Sonoma County Tourism Indicators: Occupancy and Average Daily Rate 2011-2016 (PDF - 350K)
• County of Sonoma Economic Development Board
• Industry Development: New and Expanded Lodging Plans
• EDB Annual Tourism Report
• Tourism and Restaurant Industries Reports (From County of Sonoma EDB)
• California Travel and Tourism Commission Research from Visit California includes build your own reports.
• Travel Industry Association of America
Want to learn more? Destination Analysts is a research firm that publishes "The State of the American Traveler," an excellent snapshot of domestic travelers.