Visit California Marketing update

Aug 12, 2020

Industry Partners,
Marketing tourism in California remains tricky. Consumer willingness to travel hovers around 50%, and there is political sensitivity to promoting travel while COVID-19 case numbers are high.

Still, while Visit California maintains a state of readiness, the organization continues to inspire travel to the Golden State despite an uncertain environment that remains less receptive to traditional marketing approaches.

Here are a few ways we are pushing the effort forward.

  • Responsible Travel: Early in the pandemic Visit California recognized the imperative of promoting safe and responsible travel. The Responsible Travel Hub has been a hit with journalists — more than 80 placements have reached 186 million people, including the New York Times’ California Today newsletter. The message is simple: Travel can be safe with a few simple precautions and a responsible mindset. Key content includes a series of features, Know Before You Go, that helps travelers prepare.
  • Partnerships: The Visit California team has leveraged existing partners such as Expedia, Virtuoso, Connections, Culture Trips and MasterCard to extend our reach and build our domestic network. The work has included 11 webinars and a Visit California Trade newsletter educating 750 travel advisors about the California product. Pivoting to a domestic focus during a pandemic that has temporarily erased international travel and left many partners without resources for domestic marketing not only makes sense, it carries out a foundational principle of Visit California: Help the industry do what it can’t do for itself.
  • Earned Media: Between March 20, when the pandemic began to shut down businesses across the state, and July 31, Visit California has kept California’s travel industry in the news, earning hundreds of placements with a reach of 2.2 billion impressions across broadcast, print and digital networks. Some of these pieces celebrated the huge economic impact of the industry while acknowledging what has been lost in visitor spending, employment and tax generation. The lion’s share of the coverage focused on armchair travel and future travel, recovery and reopening and the California Responsible Travel Code. 
  • See You Soon: Visit California’s “See You Soon” digital video series continues to perform exceptionally well, reaching millions of Californians with high engagement across our social channels and a 73%-plus favorability rating.
  • Road Trips: Visit California is moving forward with the latest edition of its annual “California Road Trips: Your Ultimate Planning Guide.” This month, the print edition will be distributed to in-state and western drive markets. It will be included in summer issues of Parents, Better Homes & Gardens and Travel + Leisure, reaching more than 600,000 households. You can request a copy in the mail and can read the guide online right now at

Like many of you, Visit California’s marketing team is poised on the tarmac, awaiting the signal to call Californians to travel. We will continue to monitor sentiment and health conditions to guide our timing. 

Californians’ willingness to venture out improved this week, with 52% saying they would resume normal activities or head out if they feel safe – a 7-point increase from a week ago. Forty-eight percent said they would stay home and head out as little as possible this week. We are aiming for the normal/head-out-if-safe number to reach 60% in California.

Nationally, sentiment is trending higher, with 62% now saying they would resume normal activities or head out if safe.

As always, thank you for your leadership and resilience during this unprecedented crisis.

Caroline Beteta
President & CEO
Visit California

Posted in Featured Articles.