Friday, April 28, 2006

Tourism report shows Napa's appeal helps North Bay
Article published - Apr 24, 2006

BUSINESS JOURNAL EDITORIAL: Tourism report shows Napa's appeal helps North Bay
A new study of tourism in Napa County is revealing for both its measure of the enormous economic impact of the industry – $1.3 billion annually – and the existence of opportunities for regional collaboration.

Among the findings of the report, “Napa County Visitor Profile and Napa County Economic Impact Study,” released March 30:

• The Napa County travel market is largely domestic, with nearly half coming from within California. Just three Bay Area counties alone, Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda, accounted for nearly 18 percent of visitors.

• Visitors are relatively wealthy, with 58 percent reporting household incomes of more than $100,000. Nearly three-quarters report having bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. Most visitors are couples traveling without children.

• These visitors spend $2.5 million a day and support 17,500 jobs. Spending included an average of $146 for day-trippers and $233 for those who stay overnight. Tourists spend $184 million on wine, $176 million on hotels, $40 million on bed and breakfasts and $265 million on food.

• Visitors generate nearly $123 million in taxes from hotel and other purchases, which the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau said translates into $1,000 for every county resident.

• Not surprisingly, most visitors come to Napa for wine and food. But they also visited downtowns, museums, art galleries and spas.

Beyond these key measurements of the role tourism plays in Napa’s economy, the study also identified one interesting piece of data for Sonoma County and Wine Country in general.

That is, visitors to Napa identified San Francisco and Sonoma County as two places they planned to visit on their current trip. With millions visiting Napa and Sonoma County every year, the potential for expanding that market – in both directions – seems worth exploring, particularly if it improves the overall visitor experience and market.

One finding should give heart to the visitors bureau and other local leaders as they continue their two-year-long effort to establish a destination strategy: A resounding 9 in 10 visitors to Napa said they would recommend the area to their friends.

Visitors didn’t like everything, of course. They were underwhelmed by the nightlife and did not like the traffic and tasting room fees.

That’s why Napa County tourism leaders are not resting.

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