2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the annual industry celebration

(SONOMA COUNTY, CA) May 8, 2023  National Travel and Tourism Week, (NTTW) the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, will spotlight the essential role of travel and tourism in driving economic growth and innovation through the theme #TravelForward.

“Travel is at the heart of Sonoma County,” said Claudia Vecchio, president/CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “Tourism not only drives the economy, but also creates jobs and strengthens our community’s culture and identity. This National Travel and Tourism Week, we are proud to celebrate all that travel does for our community now, and all that it will contribute to in the future.”

Established in 1983, NTTW is an annual tradition to mark the U.S. travel industry’s role in stimulating economic growth, cultivating vibrant communities, creating quality job opportunities, stimulating business activity and elevating the quality of life for everyday Americans.

Showcasing the importance of the tourism industry to cities and communities across the state, SCT, in partnership with Visit California, SCT commissioned Dean Runyan Associates to measure the economic impact of the tourism industry. The 2021-2022 shows Sonoma County’s initial recovery provides a foundation for long-term optimism. 

Overall destination spending went from $2.23 billion in 2019 to $1.25 billion in 2020. In 2022, destination spending exceeded pre-pandemic levels, rising to $2.29 billion, an increase of 19 percent over 2021 levels. Job growth also continues with a 20 percent year-over-year increase. For 2022, tourism industry jobs total 21,150. While not yet at pre-pandemic levels of more than 22,000 jobs, the growth is impressive.

“The tourism and hospitality industry continues to be vital for the long-term health of Sonoma County’s economy,” says Vecchio added. “Looking forward, we’re also forecasting a meetings and group business rebound by year’s end and the return of international in-bound visits resulting in an even stronger recovery into 2023.”

For more information on this study, the 2022 Sonoma County Economic Impact report may be accessed here.  

To mark National Travel and Tourism Week, Sonoma County Tourism will be hosting a series of celebratory events and initiatives:  

Stars of the Industry Awards 2023 

Sonoma County Tourism will celebrate the best and brightest in the tourism and hospitality industry at the 2023 Stars of the Industry Awards on Tuesday, May 9 at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. The event is designed to celebrate businesses that contribute to the wellbeing of our community and make Sonoma County a vibrant vacation destination, as well as the unsung hospitality workforce that go above and beyond in service to our visitors. Through public nominations and a community vote, award winners will be announced in the following categories: 

  • Front of the House  
  • Heart of the House  
  • Customer Experience 
  • Innovation Award 
  • Environmental Stewardship / Sustainable Practices 
  • Community Enrichment  
  • Rising Star 
  • Champion of the Industry 
  • Lodging Property of the Year 

Special awards:  

  • Legacy Award  
  • Accredited Hospitality Professional Champion 

Special recognition will be given to Analy High School for the Accredited Hospitality Professional Program Champion Award, and Don and Thera Buttaro, who will receive the Legacy Award for their tenured legacy and leadership in serving the industry of Bodega Bay and Sonoma County. Interested parties can view the finalists at the Sonoma County Stars of the Industry Awards webpage.  

Gold Resolution 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will be proclaiming May as Travel and Tourism Month in Sonoma County with a Gold Resolution on Tuesday, May 9 during their board meeting.  

Local Businesses to Shine Pinot Purple 

For the fourth consecutive year, local businesses will be casting their properties in purple light (the official color of hospitality in Sonoma County). SCT is providing purple lighting accommodations for businesses with outdoor lighting at no cost in support of NTTW. Participating businesses for 2023 can be found here.  

Destination Stewardship and Resilience Master Plan  

Under development for two years, with input from hundreds of local businesses and residents, Sonoma County Tourism is proud to launch its benchmark Destination Stewardship and Resilience Master Plan on Thursday May 11.  

The difference between this plan and other long-term plans is its principal focus on resiliency and stewardship. As a destination stewardship organization, SCT moves from a more narrow sales and marketing approach to embrace a broad-based strategy for the destination. SCT is committed to ensuring the programs it administers and supports are in the best interest of the entirety of the County.  

SCT’s capacity to be resilient is dependent on its ability to operate at a fully functional level even during stressors. It will take both leadership and partnership from those within and outside of the tourism space to bring the plan to life.  

Sonoma County Tourism Cares Volunteer Event 

The activities will conclude on Friday, May 12 when the tourism industry gives back to the community. Sonoma County Tourism Cares is delighted to cap off National Travel & Tourism Week by partnering with the Humane Society of Sonoma County on a morning of projects supporting Sonoma County’s furriest residents. 

Established in 1983, National Travel and Tourism Week is the annual salute to travel in America. Communities nationwide unite around a common theme to showcase travel’s contributions to the economy and American jobs. Sonoma County is proud to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and to highlight our industry’s incredible feats.   

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Helpful links: 

Dean Runyan Associates, The Economic Impact of Travel in California, 2022.
Power of Tourism webpage: www.sonomacounty.com/power-of-tourism 
U.S. Travel Association: www.ustravel.org 
Visit California: www.visitcalifornia.com 

About Sonoma County   

Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s official Destination Stewardship Organization. Through a multi-channel sales and marketing program, the organization promotes Sonoma County as a global visitor and meetings destination, where diversity thrives, and everyone is welcome. Leveraging the region’s unmatched assets, wine, culinary, wellness and sustainability continue to define its character. As the industry recovers, SCT will work with partner businesses to rebuild the tourism economy, regain critical revenue and re-establish a vibrant workforce. For more information, visit www.sonomacounty.com  

Sonoma County Tourism Media Contacts  

Birgitt Vaughan, Director of Public Relations   
Chris Vomvolakis, Senior Manager, Consumer Public Relations
[email protected]   

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Please visit ustravel.org/NTTW to learn more about National Travel and Tourism Week.