SONOMA COUNTY, California, May 1, 2020 — During the week of May 3-9, 2020, communities nationwide unite around a common theme to showcase the tourism industry’s contributions to the American economy.  This year, Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) joins the tourism industry in celebrating the “Spirit of Travel” to remind our country that even in the most difficult of times, the spirit of travel cannot be broken.

 “While the Sonoma County tourism industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extraordinary spirit of resilience, tenacity and creativity is showcased every day in myriad ways, both large and small,” said Claudia Vecchio, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism.

“Almost no other destination has experienced the trials Sonoma County has had in the past three years,” she added. “While this crisis is different, our visitor-facing business owners, entrepreneurs, workers and other professionals have provided a number of ways for people to bring Sonoma County into their homes and virtually convey the experiences that make this destination so special. This beautifully illustrates the spirit and ingenuity of travel.”

Along with the national weeklong celebration, Visit California has announced May as Travel and Tourism month, highlighting the hospitality industry as an important economic driver for the state and local communities.

Tourism by the Numbers

Each year, Sonoma County Tourism commissions the countywide economic impact report provided through Visit California’s partnership with Dean Runyan Associates. In 2019, direct travel related spending in the county was $2.23 billion, up 1.4% from 2018. The 2019 report shows spending by visitors in Sonoma County increased 1.4% to nearly $2.23 billion from 2018 to 2019. The report also shows a 1.9% increase, or $203.5 million, in total government revenues (state and local) in the form of various taxes. Of that, visitors generated $109.3 million for Sonoma County to fund local services.

Without tourism, each Sonoma County household would have to pay an additional $1,071 in taxes each year to receive the same level of services.

“There is no question that travel, and tourism is a key economic driver for Sonoma County,” said Steve Jung, chair of the Sonoma County Tourism board of directors. “Whether the economy is strong, as it was coming into the spring, or is weakened by the lack of visitation we’re seeing now, the industry’s performance and all ancillary business activity directly impacts the economy.”

“We will continue to have headwinds coming out of this crisis,” Jung adds. “While we’re confident the attributes of Sonoma County will make it a compelling destination, we are expecting a moderate recovery and one that will require changes in the way we do business to ensure our employees, visitors and local residents feel safe and welcomed.  That will be the best way we can exemplify the spirit of travel.”

Sonoma County Tourism is planning a number of initiatives as part of its week-long celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week:

Tourism Cares Blood Donation

Launched in May 2017 as part of National Travel and Tourism Week, Tourism Cares is Sonoma County Tourism’s volunteer program. SCT is honored to have sponsored and facilitated 20 Tourism Cares events over the past four years. “Nine out of ten hospitality businesses give back to the community in some way,” said Kelly Bass Seibel, director of community engagement for Sonoma County Tourism. “Even through one of the most trying times for our industry, it has been incredible to watch the support hospitality businesses have given to healthcare workers and first responders. The sense of community is truly what makes Sonoma County so special.” With the limitations in place by COVID-19, Tourism Cares could not gather in person, but rather selected a means of giving back to the community in a profoundly impactful way: by donating blood. As a way of thanking blood donors, SCT is entering donor names into a drawing to win a Sonoma County Tourism wellness gift box.

Shine Pinot Purple

In a show of unity and determination during this challenging time, destinations across the country have been lighting their buildings and landmarks in the official color of the hospitality industry: purple. More than 25 local businesses have arranged to “Shine Pinot Purple” for National Travel and Tourism Week, including: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Luther Burbank Center, Hotel Petaluma, and the Museum of Sonoma County, among many others. A full listing is available here.

#HospitalityStrong

Thanks to the generous support of Accent Printing, #HospitalityStrong posters will be distributed to local hospitality and tourism businesses through SCT, and local chambers of commerce and visitor centers. These posters demonstrate to the community our strength and unity, and that we are unwaveringly #HospitalityStrong.

#GivingTuesdayNow

Sonoma County Tourism is pleased to join #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5. While practicing physical distancing we can still show social connection and come together on behalf of our communities. We are proud of the many local businesses who have been paying it forward. The global day of action will rally people around the world to tap into the power of human connection and strengthen communities at the grassroots level. Sonoma County Tourism’s Facebook and Instagram channels will feature local activities and stories of our tourism industry giving back to our Sonoma County communities.

Sonoma County Digital Puzzles

While prospective travelers are sheltered in place, imagining future adventures, they can now literally assemble those dreams together with Sonoma County Tourism’s new online puzzles. For each day of National Travel and Tourism week, Sonoma County Tourism will release a new digital puzzle on sonomacounty.com/digital-puzzles. Each puzzle will feature a beautiful scene in Sonoma County, including coastline, redwood forests, and vineyards.

#HospitalityStrong Facebook Profile Frame

Members of the tourism and hospitality industry, (along with their friends and family) can now show their support by adopting Sonoma County Tourism’s new #HospitalityStrong Facebook profile frame, which will debut during National Travel and Tourism week.

 

Helpful links:
Power of Tourism webpage: www.sonomacounty.com/power-of-tourism
U.S. Travel Association: www.ustravel.org
Visit California: www.visitcalifornia.com

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Sonoma County Tourism is the official destination stewardship organization for California’s Sonoma County. SCT is a private, not-for-profit marketing and sales organization dedicated to sustaining the tourism and hospitality economy in Sonoma County, California.

Sonoma County Tourism offices are located at 400 Aviation Blvd., Ste. 500, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403. For more information, call 707-522-5800 or 800-576-6662, or visit www.sonomacounty.com.

Media Contact
Birgitt Vaughan
Director of Global Media Relations
Sonoma County Tourism
707-522-5826
[email protected]

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