Throughout its history, California has shined as a welcoming destination for travelers from around the world. Amid divisive rhetoric and global uncertainties, the state’s role on the global stage is more important than ever.
Earlier this year, the Visit California Board of Directors approved $1 million to tell international travelers that California continues to be a welcoming destination. It was just the second time in Visit California’s history that reserve funding was appropriated. (The first was in response to the 9/11 attacks.)
The new initiative is an optimization on California’s Dream Big brand platform and the current “Living the Dream” global campaign. Called “All Dreams Welcome,” it leverages the state’s “everyone is welcome” culture to roll out the red carpet for travelers from international markets. Guided by global sentiment research, the multi-pronged program focuses heavily on PR activations with additional paid and social content support, along with co-ops for industry partners in markets at highest risk.
Globally, no markets have bigger impacts on California’s tourism economy than Mexico and Canada. In 2016, travelers from Mexico spent $3.2 billion in California, while Canadians spent more than $2 billion. Research indicated that likelihood to travel to California was down in both due to rising negative sentiment about the United States.
To bring “All Dreams Welcome” to life, in May Visit California led a CEO delegation, joined by mayors from three gateway cities, on goodwill missions to Mexico and Canada.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee joined industry leaders for a host of events south of the border May 21-23. The delegation met with influential Mexican CEOs from leading airlines, travel affiliates and tour operators, and hosted press conferences in two of Mexico’s biggest cities to highlight the enduring ties between the Golden State and its largest international market.
In Mexico City, Visit California and Aeromexico, Mexico’s top airline, announced new collaboration and the launch of the 2017 Co-Op Partnership Program to more than 60 media at a standing-room-only press conference.
The following day at Tijuana International Airport, 23 representatives from Mexico’s leading news outlets gathered at the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) – an innovative new terminal connecting to San Diego that streamlines passenger border crossings – where Visit California further underscored the new partnership and travel opportunities that the CBX presents for the state’s tourism industry. The conference was followed by a celebratory CBX crossing into San Diego.
In Canada, California CEOs, trade managers and destination partners met with top trade, airline and media representatives in Toronto on May 24-26. Visit California also took the opportunity to launch the inaugural California Luxury Symposium to gain insights from Canada’s expert luxury influencers.
Given the current weakness of the Canadian dollar and research indicating that the country’s luxury audience has the most growth potential, the two days and five trade events that were part of the symposium were especially impactful, hosting nearly 170 attendees during both the mission’s media and track tracks.
All told, the missions were an unqualified success. Media coverage resulted in 52 total placements to date, with a media value exceeding $280,000. Furthermore, the missions constituted a powerful display of commitment to these markets, bringing together leaders from across the state, including the gateway destination CEOs who have been instrumental in shaping “All Dreams Welcome” since its inception.
The successes of the missions are critical steps forward as Visit California continues to activate “All Dreams Welcome” internationally and reinforce the Golden State’s role as a beacon for the world.