Our tourism economy began to normalize after coming off a record 2022 year. It will be important that we continue to collaborate as a region and industry to compete for market share. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and results of the Visit Greater Palm Springs team. It is impossible to share all of the highlights in my letter, and we encourage you to review the board website for all of the in-depth results. Here are a few highlights from 2023:
- The convention sales team ended the year achieving 121% of their room-night goal for 225,052 total room nights to a goal of 185,500, while also meeting their goals for leads distributed, new bookings, and new leads (which surpassed 2019 and 2022 levels).
- Our destination marketing campaigns generated a total of 25.3B impressions across all programs.
- We expanded our leisure campaign advertising internationally and had a two-week activation throughout Ireland, Scotland, and England that opened doors for media engagement across multiple channels.
- Our website had 628,614 partner referrals, 11,546 visitor guide downloads, and 18,146 e-newsletter sign-ups.
- The team’s social media efforts resulted in a combined 51M impressions, 9M video views, and 206K website clicks for the year, and we created two new social media channels (@TeamGreaterPS) to raise engagement and awareness, support local events, and spotlight hospitality and tourism workforce priorities.
- More than 650 attendees gathered to celebrate the spirit of Greater Palm Springs tourism as we celebrated our Champions of Hospitality at our annual awards gala, with more than $90,000 raised through sponsorships, silent auction and donations.
- We supported workforce development, adding an Emerging Leaders Certificate training program to our TEAM GPS offerings with COD PaCE, which enrolled 98 participants last year, and awarded $58,489 in scholarships for college students pursing hospitality degrees, emerging leaders certificate training, and COD hospitality students to attend an immersion trip to Japan.
- We advanced our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by continuing our work with Travel Unity, partnering with Caravanserei Project to broaden the networks of Spanish speaking entrepreneurs with small businesses in the tourism & hospitality industry, and launched an initiative to become a Certified Autism Center.
Overall, PSP demand in 2023 was strong: a record 3.2 million passengers for 2023. A recent U.S. Travel forecast noted that while a slowing economy, weakening finances, and international headwinds post a challenge to the industry, it will be critical for VGPS and our partners to collaborate and work together to overcome the economic softening and the distractions of a Presidential election. On a positive note, our VGPS group bookings are ahead of pace for 2024 and 2025.
In order for the tourism economy to continue to grow, it will be critical to support the PSP master plan and FIS (international customs & immigration facility). The City of Palm Springs also conducted a convention center feasibility study and are keeping those priorities moving forward. Developing a competitive convention center generates compression, which benefits the entire region. The COD hospitality campus is progressing and is critical to advance our tourism workforce development needs.
We’ll be solidifying our VGPS goals for the year during our board meeting to ensure that we continue to move our organizational mission forward to promote our destination internationally while advancing regional collaboration and improving the quality of life for our residents and partners.
VGPS will develop a branding and marketing effort to help the region diversify the economy by attracting new potential businesses and investors in the Coachella Valley. We are working on a new JPA agreement that will be shared in February. The economic diversity committee will transition into a technical advisory committee that will convene city economic development directors and city managers to assist VGPS with our new role.
We look forward to partnering with all of you to make our valley stronger and more prosperous in 2024 and beyond. Fostering collaboration in 2024 will be critical for our region, and we thank you for your commitment and support.
Scott White, President/CEO
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