Summer has arrived in Greater Palm Springs, and our “Check In. Chill Out.” campaign is in full swing with our 11 co-op partners. Although we anticipate another great summer of visitation, consumer sentiment continues to be unpredictable, with record-high gas prices and inflation impacting how travelers are planning their trips this summer.
Tourism Economics has completed our 2021 Economic Impact Study, which has encouraging signs of recovery reporting 12.8 million visitors welcomed into Greater Palm Springs last year with $5.6 billion (95% of 2019 levels) in direct spending. This visitation generated $6.8 billion in total economic impact for the destination in 2021. Total jobs generated is the slowest to recover, at 37,254 total jobs compared to 53,500 in 2019. Emphasis on education and workforce will continue to be a priority in rebuilding our hospitality community.
On the education front, we are becoming much more involved with College of the Desert, Cal State, and programs that train our industry team members to be leaders. Priority 1 Coachella Valley has successfully lobbied Sacramento to receive $59 million for the Cal State San Bernadino, Palm Desert Campus, with the California State Assembly and Senate both approving the funding. It still awaits Governor Newsom’s signature—due by June 30—to make the state’s final budget, but all indicators suggest he will sign. This is a crucial step toward independence. Having a standalone Cal State campus is one of the most critical components for our region—helping to diversify our economy, import a new workforce for our industry, and drive demand for new nightlife and entertainment options.
Our workforce development campaign launched this month to support and encourage our local youth to consider a career path in tourism. The campaign emphasizes career growth and opportunities from some of our local hospitality professionals and will be highlighted through video, digital ads, and radio.
During our June board meeting, Trever Cartwright from Coraggio will be back to help us finalize our priorities for the next two years and develop our new vision and mission statements as Visit Greater Palm Springs continues to evolve into a destination stewardship organization. This session is very important; your voice and insight will help guide the tourism industry and our organization on how we want to invest our time and resources moving forward.
It is very important that our region continues to evolve and that we work together to enhance the visitor experience—keeping in mind that the priorities for the next generation of travelers are focused on visiting destinations that are more sustainable and committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our focus on sales, marketing, and public relations will always be the foundation, but the story we share must remain relevant to the next generation of travelers.
Protecting our open spaces is important to our destination, and having outdoor activities and open spaces played a key role in our pandemic recovery. The Coachella Valley was developed as a seasonal destination, and as we mature into a year-round getaway, it is important that we shift our mindset. We need to develop an environment that is more sustainable, enhance our outdoor areas to be more enjoyable during the summer months, draw new events/attractions, and create more nightlife/entertainment options. Imagine if we had the same type of live music options that you can get in Austin and Nashville! We could become the music capital of the West Coast.
We hope you enjoyed Restaurant Week, but don’t stop now! Our Summer Eats pass will be live all summer, and we encourage you to support our local small business owners.
We look forward to working with you on June 24th at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort. Thank you to Tim Pyne for hosting us!
Scott White, President/CEO