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The Truth About Tourism

When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors. Santa Monica’s reputation as an escape for pleasure seekers dates back to the early 1860s when Angelenos would leave the summer heat and dust of the city behind to camp in the cool ocean breeze of Santa Monica Canyon. In 1892, Santa Monica had a resident population of only two thousand, but tourists more than doubled that figure. In 2010, National Geographic named Santa Monica one of the “Top 10 Beach Cities in the World” and today visitors from around the globe travel near and far to enjoy all that our beach city has to offer.

In a destination as popular as Santa Monica, tourists can often be perceived as a nuisance, but tourism is often a crucial component to the economical and sociological factors that makes those destinations such wonderful places to call home. So what is the true story of tourism in Santa Monica? Is tourism necessary to our city’s prosperity?  To help answer that question, lets take a closer look at the top three tourism misconceptions.

Myth #1: Tourism only benefits hotels, airlines and travel agencies
Transient Occupancy Tax generated from hotel stays in Santa Monica generated over $39 million dollars into the City of Santa Monica’s general fund in 2012, providing resources for valuable resident service city services including police and fire, parks, schools and more. Without these revenues, each Santa Monica household would need to pay an additional $1,039 annually in taxes to maintain city services.

Myth #2: Tourists bring congestion & parking problems
Over 75% of Santa Monica’s hotel visitors do NOT use a car once they have arrived in Santa Monica. Over half of Santa Monica’s visitors are from outside of the United States, and international visitors prefer to walk and take public transportation to driving.

Myth #3: The more tourists, the less our city will be preserved
It’s important for destinations to provide an authentic experience for both locals and visitors. The more money that is generated into our general fund, the more resources we have available to preserve our treasured landmarks such as Santa Monica Pier, Annenberg Community Beach House, public art installations, Santa Monica History Museum and more. It is all about strategic planning and providing a balance in our beloved community.

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