For many years, tourism sector has been behind the economic and social success of most states in the US. This paper, however, aims at investigating the role played by tourism In California. It looks in to the role played by the sector in securing a good economic front in California. Drawing from a number of existing research and literature covering the issue, this research paper provides an insight in to what has over the ages, been considered a strong economic strong hold for California and its residence. With the aim of providing a tourism profile, it shades into light some factors, which may have been overlooked from time to time by most researchers in their quest to cover the field. An overview tourism industry in California gives us the answers to the who, where and how behind this concept. However, tourism not only brings invaluable economic, cultural, and social advantages to California and its people. As we shall find out, tourism in California has bee behind a myriad of disadvantages on all the three aspects. It is with this reason that this paper, at some point highlights various implications of tourism in this state.
General outlook of tourism in California
In California, tourism is behind a massive source of job creation, income, and tax revenue. It plays a significant role in driving California’s economy by generating a whooping around $ 75.4 billion every year. Recent studies show that the sector is responsible for the employment of close to 11000 people, both in travel and tour sector. In addition, the industry draws travelers and tourists from all over the world, with the year 2001 recording a total of 4.9 million visitors from overseas. In overall, California accounts for an enormous share of 11.1 % of U.S’s domestic travel market. This makes California the most visited state in the US.
Climate and Topography
California is located in the famous West Coast of USA. It runs from the Pacific coast the west to the Nevada Mountains in the eastern region. It makes the third biggest coastline after Alaska and Florida. Seating on an area of approximately 158,000 square miles, California is again the third largest state in the US. Between the West Coast and the Eastern region lies the Central Valley which harbors most of this states’ agricultural fraction. Climatically, California has a varying climatic condition. It enjoys both the Mediterranean and Subarctic condition during the 2010 census report, California recorded 37,200, 400 people (Bradford 15). Consequently, California became the most populated state in the US. All the above factors in one way or another have a bearing in tourism industry in California.
In California, surprisingly, foreign tourists account for a relatively low percentage of the total number of tourists recorded in this area per year. According to the California Division of
Tourism (CDT), 84% of the tourists recorded were resident s from within the state. I t further postulates that, 143% of the remaining tourists were from other states in the US while the other 4% was made up of overseas visitors. California hosts many people of diverse backgrounds, religion, social class, ethic groups, racial segregates, and nationality. Through the tourism industry, the state attracts thousands of immigrants annually.
Out of the overall population of California State, most of them are concentrated in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Because of the lack of a majority ethnic composition, California forms an ideal majority-minority state in the US. Nearly a half of California speaks English, majority of them being Non-Hispanic whites. As per the 2010 census, about 39% was made up of Non-Hispanics, African- Americans constitute about 5%, Asians make up close to 12.8% and while other races formed the rest.
The role and significance of major cities
California hosts a number of cities, but a few of them have a significant input in the tourism sector. The most pronounced cities in this sector include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Starting with San Francisco, about 40% of visitors who arrive at this city are there for tourism purpose. They visit the expansive resorts and hotels for a number of businesses. In San Francisco, visitors are attracted by a number of tourist sites including the Napa Wine Country, the Carmel, and Lake Tahoe. It is located at the top of Peninsula and the surrounding pacific and San Francisco Bay provides a good site of tourist attraction. The city has a population of close to 80,000 people. Its tourism is vital for the City’s overall economic outlook. According to CDT, in the year 2001 alone, close to 15.7 million people visited the area and are said to have spent over $6 billion.
Los Angeles, which is the second largest city in the US, has a population of about 4 million. In the tourism sector, Los Angeles’ major input is through services, retail and wholesale trade, transportation, financial service industries, utilities, and construction. Tourism is more pronounced in the western areas of the city where the major tourist attractions such as restaurants and shopping centers are. In this city, it is not the actual tourist attractions that draw people as such, but the serene environment of the area provided by the well developed housing facilities, which provide good holiday homes for most of the tourist who visit the area. The Shorefront Improvement, established in 1992, for instance, has improved the appearance of the City making it attractive to visitors from without the state. This program provides assistance to private developers as well as financial grants, thus contributing to the general economy of the city and the state of California as whole.
San Diego on the other hand, is known for its expansive real estate developments. This area serves a pivotal role in ensuring that visitors are well catered for and enjoy world class living facilities as they tour the area. These facilities, together with other income-generating service and industry sectors provide a great deal for revenue from sales, transport services as well as from tax returns. In general, these three states play a significant complementary role in the sector by ensuring that all aspects needed for a successful tourism industry are made available and sustainable.
Major tourist attractions
In California, the major tourist attractions include amusement and themes parks, National Parks, recreation areas, and historic sites. This presence of many major tourist attractions provided the rationale of undertaking this research in this state. National parks for instance, serve as the leading attractions amongst the various categories of tourist attractions in California. They include, Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, Joshua Tree National Park, Lassen National Park, and Lava Beds National Monument among other great sceneries. The Joshua National Park for instance, serves the visiting tourists with opportunities to explore and adventure the area. It offers a variety of activities ranging from nature trails, hiking, rock-climbing amongst other adventures.
The Golden Gate Recreation Center was established as a national park in 1972. This park, amusingly, is the largest national park found in an urban area in the world. It occupies about 75000 acres of land boasting as the most visited park in the US. It hosts a number of sceneries, including Alcatraz, Marin Headlands, Muir Woods National Monument, and the Presidio. The Presidio of San Francisco, designated as a historic site in 1994, occupies about 1,500 acres with over 500 historic structures and a collection of various fortifications, national cemetery, as well as a historic airfield.
Markets and competitive advantages and disadvantages
The current status and the future prospects of tourism in California heavily rely on both the demand and supply forces. The presence of attractions, which serve across all gender, age, and class boundaries, implies that, despite the changing trends in preferences, tourism in California is likely to remain on top of the world market. On the other hand supply may not be able to withstand the forced of demand in the long run. This is due to capacity limits in most of the tourist areas and most importantly in residential area. Other infrastructure such as roads continues to be congested as a result of the influx of tourists. The advantage is that with the increase in demand for the various services, more revenue continues to be collected. In addition, more jobs are created because of the mushrooming industry and service firms set up to serve visitors.
Existing tourist infrastructure
California boasts of a number of infrastructures that has been set up directly as a result of the presence of tourism in the area. A number of this infrastructure is spread within the state thus providing a source of employment for many people as well as services. For instance, due to the existence of tourism in the area, San Diego Convention and Visitor Bureau were set up. It was set up so as to oversee the financial prospects of the tourism sector with the aim of making it an independent entity from the state. It promotes cities and regions in California as desirable destinations for potential visitors. It also offers a number of services to event organizers at no fee. Secondly, housing and development programs are in existence in this state. This program focuses on residential areas for visiting tourists, conference halls, and building for commercial purposes. In addition, Enterprise Zone is a recently established infrastructure aimed at promoting development and boosting of employment.
The role of the State Department of Tourism or National Tourism Organization
These two organs play a crucial role in making this industry a success. The biggest role played by the two organs is that of marketing and management of tourism areas as well as all activities such fall within their jurisdictions. They are tasked with the implementation of Tourism Market Plan, they represent the state in local and international trade, conducting and publishing research to enhance the business prospects of the sector at the same time, and they partner with other organizations to promote tourism both in local and foreign market.
Tourism is a far-reaching investment I California. It is responsible for significant number employment opportunities, collection of revenue, and community development. Looking at the role it plays in creation of employment, it is evident that this sector forms a pillar in the employment sector. Many people work in this sector both in the field and in the various offices. In addition to individuals directly employed by this sector are those who work in service industries. However, not everything is rosy about tourism industry in California. There are a number of underlying issues that are attributed to the rising intensity of the industry. For instance, most areas associated with tourists are known to sell their goods and services at exorbitant prices. Secondly, tourism, more often than not, has been associated with a number of social issues. For example considering the influx of people from diverse backgrounds, there is bound to be social misfits such as prostitutions, human trafficking, and disease break outs. All these are witnessed in most of the tourist-inhabited areas.
From the findings of the research, it suffices to say that tourism in California has not achieved its full potential yet. A lot need to be done so as to reach this threshold and produce the optimum output. California, is well situated in therefore its excellence in the tourism sector is by no means unachievable. The role played by tourism both in the private sector and to the state vital toward realization of most of the economic goals behind the relentless efforts by both parties. However, tourism in California, in my opinion, is not paying close attention to citizen concerns in most of these areas. This, ironically, is should not be the case. Looking at some of the statistics, the locals for within the state make for a massive 84% of the total number of visitors to areas of attraction. Therefore, tourism, through State Department of Tourism and National Tourism Organization should have the interests of the citizens at hand.
In view of the findings and the conclusion, I would like to make some recommendations. First, in order to realize the full potential of this industry without undermining, I would prefer a consultative approach. For instance, developers should work in consultations with the relevant authorities to ensure no unnecessary destruction of the ecosystem. Secondly, in view of the issues dealing with congestion, more planning needs to be done to allow for future expansion of the industry and the supporting infrastructure.