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Research & Reports: Tourism in Sonoma County

Tourism and hospitality are an integral part of the economy for the United States, California, and Sonoma County. 

Download the 2020 Sonoma County Quick Facts


Monthly Tourism Destination Data Dashboard for Sonoma County
provided by Tourism Economics. Sources: STR, AirDNA and STS Sonoma County Airport.

    Visitor Statistics (2020)

    • 8.4 million visitors came to Sonoma County in 2020 (an overall decline of -18.3% versus 2019).  Of these, 57% ( 4.8 million) are day visitors and 43% (3.6 million) are overnight visitors (source: Longwoods)
    • The impact of the Coronavirus on visitor spending was dramatic.  In 2019, visitors spent $2.2 Billion in Sonoma County. In 2020, that number decreased by 49% to $1.13 Billion. (source: Dean Runyan)
    • Tourism and hospitality have always been important industries for Sonoma County’s workforce, but 2020 saw a cumulative loss of 27% in the workforce.  Hospitality industry employment in 2019 was 22,358 (10% of the overall workforce), but fell to 16,264 as of December 2020. (source: Dean Runyan)


    Travel Impacts for Sonoma County (2020):

    State and local government revenue generated by the local Sonoma County tourism industry ($112 million in 2020) is used to help support regional parks, economic development, arts and culture, education, roads, public safety, education, affordable housing and workforce development among other community programs.  Information from Visit California / Dean Runyan and Associates.

    View data for Sonoma County:  "California Travel Impacts by County - Sonoma" 

    Destination Spending = $1.137 billion

    Visitor Spending by Commodity Purchased ($Millions)

    • Accommodations: $289
    • Food Service: $306
    • Local Transportation: $77.8 (including gas)
    • Arts, Entertain, Rec.: $165.5 (including wineries, parks)
    • Retail Sales: $158.5
    • Visitor Air Transport: $5.8

    Travel Impacts for the State of California (2020):

    Information from Visit California / Dean Runyan and Associates.
    View full report: "California Travel Impacts " for 2020.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global economic hardship. The travel industry has been especially hard hit, even more so than during the Great Recession. U.S. travel spending declined an estimated 36% in 2020. The California travel industry was even more affected, experiencing an estimated decline of 55% in travel spending.

    Travel Spending declined 55% from $144.9 billion in 2019 to $65.1 billion in 2020. Direct travel-generated employment experienced a loss of approximately 316,000 jobs across the state. This represents a 26.8% decline in travel-generated employment. The largest amount of job losses occurred within accommodations and food services sector, which lost approximately 174,000 travel industry jobs. Direct travel-generated earnings experienced a loss of $13.9 billion, a 25.4% decline. Tax receipts generated by travel spending are down 45.6% compared to 2019. 

    TOT Assessment by City in Sonoma County

    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.

    • Cloverdale – 10 percent
    • Healdsburg – 12 percent
    • Petaluma – 10 percent
    • Rohnert Park – 12 percent
    • Santa Rosa – 9 percent
    • Sebastopol – 10 percent
    • Sonoma – 12 percent
    • Windsor – 12 percent
    • Unincorporated County – 12 percent

    Tourism Business Statistics (2018)*

    • 77 percent of Sonoma County tourism businesses are small (fewer than 25 employees) 
    • 85 percent of tourism businesses are locally owned, only two percent of these are franchises
    • 43 percent have been in business for more than 20 years, 35 percent have been in business for 10 or fewer years

    *Sonoma County Economic Development Board’s Annual Tourism Report



    Want to learn more? Destination Analysts is a research firm that publishes "The State of the American Traveler," an excellent snapshot of domestic travelers.