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State and local tourism leaders see a post-COVID comeback along the Central Coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After two years of pandemic issues and a drop in travelers, the tourism industry is seeing a comeback.

Visit Santa Barbara President Kathy Janega-Dykes spoke to a tourism summit session Wednesday afternoon and said, "in the last five weeks our hotels have sold more occupied rooms than they ever did over the same period. That is incredibly remarkable and it is not something we are seeing every else."

Marketing and advertising has been done "surgically" she said.

Among the speakers, Visit California President Caroline Beteta said "while we all have good news right now the competition is very fierce out there and we are  really looking at head winds competitively."

Many other states have been aggressive in their ad campaigns at a time when California was cautious about fully reopening. There's some catching up to do for the state tourism industry.

Analysts say travelers are ready. 87 percent are planning at least one leisure trip in the next two months according to Erin Francis-Cummings the President of Destination Analysts.

The meeting was in a filled room at the newly renovated Cabrillo Pavillion at the Santa Barbara waterfront.

In the distance, the Majestic Princess cruise ship, stopping for the day and bringing boat loads of visitors to the area.

Trendy ad campaigns have been developed for California, focusing on adventure, kids trips, culinary areas and outside adventures.

Local resident and honored actor Kevin Costner is also features on the cover of the Visit California magazine posing in front a convertible overlooking the Santa Barbara County shores.

"We're calling it the great travel comeback and it's clearly underway here on the south coast," said Janega-Dykes. 

She said, "the decision to reimagine State Street was brilliant.  It truely has been a game changer for visitor experience."

Domestic business is driving the industry's rapid return, which is about 12 months ahead of predictions.

Some concerns going forward including the rising cost of gas and any impacts from a new COVID variant.

Article Topic Follows: Travel
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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