Visit California

All Dreams Welcome in California 

California is known as a premier travel destination, where travelers can Dream Big and enjoy limitless adventures, from the mountains to the beaches, the Redwoods to the deserts and from world-class cities to unique small towns, California inspires year-round travel, one visitor at a time. Infusing tourism with the principles of stewardship is the key to the longevity of travel in California. That means embracing responsible travel that respects Californians and their communities, promotes green practices that preserve natural, cultural, and manmade assets, and urges Californians to act on the pride they feel for their state and its offerings. 

California is leading the way with its sustainability efforts thanks to eco-friendly destinations, resorts, activities, vineyards, and its growing farm-to-fork culture. The Golden State continues to innovate and grow in the sustainable space.

As travelers return to California after many months of restricted travel, it will give California and its travel partners a chance to manage some of the environmental pressure points. Managing these dynamics must become top of mind for the tourism industry, as more and more visitors worldwide are demanding sustainable destinations when they travel.

The good news is California’s travel and tourism industry has committed to these tasks: Sustainability must be at the heart of what we do, destination stewardship is pivotal to our future, and California is the right state to best guide a comprehensive approach to protect, preserve, and promote the California experience.

When you’re ready, the Golden State offers limitless adventure, where all dreams are welcome.

WHY TRAVEL MATTERS 

As the 5th largest economy in the world, travel and tourism is one of California’s most vital engines for economic growth. In 2016, the California Legislature even passed a bi-partisan resolution declaring May California Tourism Month, spotlighting tourism as a key driver of the state’s economy. Every day before the pandemic of 2020, tourism injected hundreds of millions of dollars into communities across the Golden State, infusing $144.9 billion into the state’s economy in 2019. This spending generated $12.2 billion in local and state tax revenue and supported 1.2 million jobs for Californians. During this time California had averaged 3.2% of annual tourism job growth. The coronavirus pandemic stalled California’s travel and hospitality economy even worse than projected, erasing $85.9 billion in visitor spending, $6.3 billion in travel-related tax collections, and halting eleven straight years of economic growth for tourism. But now, recovery is moving forward, and the economic power of travel and tourism has never been more important to all Californians. The state has never been more welcoming to visitors from abroad and to natives exploring their home state’s vast geographical diversity and local enterprises.

PRESERVE CALIFORNIA’S RESOURCES 

As Visit California launches a process to develop its statewide Tourism Sustainability Plan, this means re-imagining the future of the state’s visitor economy through a triple-bottom-line perspective: 

  • Social: How can California ensure that the state’s visitor economy offers cultural, recreational, and quality-of-life benefits to all Californians?
  • Environmental: How can destination promoters ensure that travel to and within California occurs in ways that protect our environment, natural resources, and assets?
  • Economic: How can tourism continue to be a thriving and enduring driver of California’s economy and that its positive impacts are felt statewide?
GUIDING PRINCIPLES

As Visit California develops a plan for tourism sustainability in the Golden State, seven principles have been identified that will guide our decision-making.

Sustainability Strategies Must:

  1. Enhance and enrich the visitor’s experience of California
  2. Contribute to a quality of life for Californians that cannot be sustained by local populations alone
  3. Respect the history and unique culture of every community
  4. Contribute to California’s economy in ways that are equitably distributed and support stable employment
  5. Influence the appropriate and effective dispersal of visitors across geographies and need periods
  6. Ensure that natural resources are used responsibly and cared for by locals and visitors alike
  7. Honor and preserve the natural beauty of California
DESTINATION STEWARDSHIP 

Destination Stewardship and the Responsible Travel Code were implemented to help destinations focus on recovery for the short term and build resilience for the future, also to establish California as the nation’s leader in sustainable tourism as a benchmark to what is expected of California’s visitors. By large margins, California visitors care about the impact they have on their destinations. Visitors to California are 11% more likely to worry about their impact on the place they stay than visitors to other destinations, and 93% believe that visitors to an area should have an obligation to leave their environment in the same shape or better than they found it. The aim for Visit California’s initiative is, in part, to use its huge consumer platform to inspire travelers to come with sustainability in mind, such as visiting during off-peak times and migrating away from common choke points, such as increased visitation and vehicle congestion in Yosemite National Park and Monterey. 

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL CODE (R.E.S.P.E.C.T.) GUIDES CALIFORNIA TRAVEL

California is a place of wide-open spaces that champions open-mindedness and celebrates diversity. Californians respect friends and neighbors and their health and safety, respect the environment, local culture and all the different kinds of people who visit the Golden State. As the code’s preamble pinpoints, “Respect is the key to keeping each other safe and all of California’s precious and fragile beauty protected for today and tomorrow.” The code is as follows: 

Roam Responsibly. I will explore California thoughtfully and responsibly, maintaining the utmost respect for everyone and everything I encounter.

Educate Myself. I will do my research before traveling across the state, familiarizing myself with local regulations and community concerns, which may have changed over time. This is especially important in rural communities with limited healthcare resources.

Safety First. I will follow public health directives from government officials, and I will take all necessary steps to minimize health risks to myself and others and stay home if I’m sick.

Preserve California. I will protect and nurture the Golden State’s pristine outdoor spaces and cultural icons by maintaining a light footprint at every turn and paying special attention to delicate ecosystems. 

Embrace Community. I will support local businesses and do my part to ensure the long-term prosperity of the places I visit.

Celebrate Culture. I will immerse myself in California’s diverse local cultures and embrace the traditions and practices I encounter.

Teach Others. I will lead by example and share these practices with fellow travelers, acknowledging that we all share the responsibility to protect California.

CALIFORNIA’S GEOGRAPHIC DIVERSITY 

California is home to twelve distinct regions encompassing world-class cities and quaint small towns sprawling across deserts, valleys, beaches and mountains. While differing from one another in their climate, location and offerings, each is an important facet of the whole and contributes to the beautiful diversity that defines the Golden State. 

A few regions where you can travel kindly with Kind Traveler include: 

Southern California 

The sunny Southern California lifestyle is exemplified in Los Angeles County. Besides movie stars, beautiful beaches, and Hollywood glamour, Kind Travelers visiting Los Angeles can see stunning museums like the Getty Center in the hills above West Los Angeles or trek the endless trails and natural scenery of Angeles National Forest. Terranea Resort, empowering travelers to give back to Marine Mammal Care Center LA on Kind Traveler, is perched over the Pacific Ocean on the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes. It makes for an idyllic Kind escape for those seeking California coastal views and abundant sea life. 

Central Coast 

Moving up the Central Coast, Kind Travelers can explore burgeoning Paso Robles and Santa Ynez wine countries, kick-back surf towns and charming enclaves like San Luis Obispo. This city, home to a growing culinary scene, is also home to Hotel SLO, a Kind Hotel that empowers travelers to give back to Surfrider Foundation to help maintain the rich coastline. It’s here that you can imagine the road trip of your life on the famous Highway 1, gliding past uncrowded beaches across one-hundred miles of Pacific coastline, half of which are protected. You’ll also discover a national marine sanctuary and national estuary, along with Monarch butterfly preserves. Don’t miss the centuries-old forests with history and heritage at every turn with nine locales on the National Register, including the hilltop beauty, Hearst Castle. 

High Sierra 

The High Sierra region, affectionately known as “California’s Backbone,” features towering peaks and defines much of the state’s eastern boundary. Adventurers can explore Yosemite National Park, find world-class skiing in Mammoth Lakes, and look up to the giant trees of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks — all within a day’s drive of either San Francisco or Los Angeles. 

In Lake Tahoe, you’ll find a sustainable destination committed to protecting the environment in both South Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe. On Kind Traveler, travelers can give back to passionate organizations such as Take Care Tahoe and UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, both advancing responsible travel and stewardship efforts in the destination. In the winter months visitors to Lake Tahoe enjoy snow sports; in summer, go hiking, mountain biking, fishing, or boating. 

Northern California

On the western oceanfront of Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend along the coast lies the breathtaking San Francisco Bay region. It’s framed by an unforgettable gateway — the iconic Golden Gate Bridge — spanning the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Explore diverse cities, picturesque hamlets, family-friendly beaches, coastal parklands, and wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, just one-and-a-half-hour north of San Francisco. Here, you’ll find nearly twenty Kind Hotels alongside world-class dining, hiking, and, of course, some of the most sustainable vineyards on the planet. Thanks to environmental stewards such as the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, Russian RiverkeeperNapa Land Trust and Sonoma Land Trust, this region will be enjoyed by future generations of visitors. 

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