California Tourism Statistics Highlights


Auto travel is an integral part of the travel industry with the vast majority, 79 percent, of U.S. domestic person-trips being taken by car, truck, camper/RV or rental car. It's a growing market, increasing 11 percent since 1994. But the impact of auto travel was really evident following the events of September 11th, with the share of auto person-trips increasing 2 percentage points in just one year. Auto travelers tend to stay closer-to-home, most often taking trips of just one or two nights and the majority tend to stay in a hotel. Older Americans are big fans of RV travel, with more than half of such trips being taken by those 55 or older. The ability to drive around in your lodging means that RV travelers tend to take longer trips than average, many of them lasting a week or more.

Travel Trends

Beaches are one of the most popular travel activities. One in ten person-trips (10%) includes going to a beach, equating to 109.5 million domestic person-trips taken in the U.S. in 2003.  Long trips are popular with beach-goers as 36 percent of beach person-trips last a week or longer. Among household trips including beaches, 41 percent include children. (Source: Domestic Travel Market Report, 2004 Edition.)

Business travel volume fell to 210.5 million person-trips in 2003, a 2.0 percent decline from 2002. Overall, business travel comprises 18 percent of total U.S. domestic person-trips.

Biking vacations attracted more than 27 million travelers in the past five years and they rank as the third most popular outdoor vacation activity in America, (following camping and hiking). People who take biking trips tend to be young and affluent. About half are between the ages of 18 and 34 and one-fourth are from households with an annual income of $75,000 or more.

2003 Top US Theme Parks Source: Amusement Business
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 14 million, flat.
Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., 12.7 million, flat.
Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 8.6 million, up 4 percent.
Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 7.8 million, down 2 percent.
Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 7.3 million, flat.
Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, 6.8 million, flat.
Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando, 6 million, flat.
Disney's California Adventures, Anaheim, Calif., 5.3 million, up 13 percent.
SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, Fla., 5.2 million, up 4 percent.
Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, Calif., 4.5 million, down 12 percent.

Top U.S. States of Destination
Traveling Residents for 2003
(Among person-trips)

1. California

2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Pennsylvania
5. New York
6. North Carolina
7. Georgia
8. Virginia
9. Ohio
10. Illinois
Top Ten States by Domestic and International Traveler Spending for 2002 (in $billions)
1. California $68.23
2. Florida $54.54
3. New York $34.41
4. Texas $34.24
5. Illinois $22.16
6. Nevada $20.24
7. Pennsylvania $15.95
8. New Jersey $15.29
9. Georgia $15.07
10. Hawaii $13.74
Source: Travel Industry Association of America


Top U.S. States of Destination  Traveling Residents for 2002
(Among person-trips)
1. California
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Pennsylvania
5. New York
6. North Carolina
7. Virginia
8. Ohio
9. Georgia
10. Illinois
Source:Travel Industry Association of America; Travelscope®

Top Ten States by Domestic and International Traveler Spending for 2000 (in $billions)
1. California $78.13
2. Florida $59.85
3. New York $39.28
4. Texas $36.01
5. Illinois $23.70
6. Nevada $22.43
7. Pennsylvania $15.95
8. New Jersey $15.68
9. Georgia $15.48
10. Hawaii $15.11

Impact of Travel on State Economies Highlights

  • California is the most visited state in America, and accounts for 11.5 percent of all domestic travel in the U.S.
  • Los Angeles County receives the most domestic tourism in the state with approximately 53 million person trips.
  • Californians themselves are the mainstay of the state's travel and tourism industry, comprising 86 % of domestic travel, or 265 million person-trips. Out-of-state visitors account for 44 million person-trips.
  • As the number one travel destination in the United States, California annually generates more than $75 billion in direct travel spending into the economy.
  • Travel directly supports jobs for more than 1 million Californians and generates $5 billion in direct state and local tax revenue.
  • Tourism is California's 3rd largest employer and 5th largest contributor to the gross state product.

Travel and tourism expenditures in 2003 amounted to an estimated $78.2 billion annually, provided employment for more than 900,000 Californians, and generated $5 billion in state and local tax revenue.
California was the destination of an estimated 309 million domestic travelers and approximately 7 million international travelers, leisure and business, in 2002, the most recent year available.

Of California’s estimated 4.1 million overseas visitors in 2002, the top five markets were the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia/New Zealand, South Korea, and Germany.
In addition to visitors from overseas, an estimated 3 million travelers come from Mexico and 874,000 from Canada.

California’s Top Domestic Markets - 2002
State Volume
Nevada 6,130,000
Arizona 4,807,000
Texas 3,572,000
Washington 3,352,000
Oregon 2,955,000

California's Top International Markets – 2002
Country Volume
Mexico 3,000,000(e)
Canada 873,800
Japan 653,000
United Kingdom 660,000
Australia/NZ 256,000
So. Korea 256,000
Germany 236,000

e= estimated

rev. 03/17/04
California Travel and Tourism Commission

Top California Amusement/Theme Parks
Based on 2003 attendance

Disneyland, Anaheim 12,720,000
Disney's California Adventure 5,311,000
Universal Studios, Hollywood 4,576,000
Sea World, San Diego 4,000,000
Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park 3,479,895
San Diego Zoo 3,085,038
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia 3,050,000
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz 3,000,000
Paramount's Great America, Santa Clara 1,911,000
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey 1,678,929
Six Flags Marine World, Vallejo 1,725,000
San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park 1,402,906
Legoland, Carlsbad 1,300,000

     Sources: CTTC, TIA, Amusement Business

Hot Deals
Save on Tickets


Universal City

Discount Disneyland Tickets


catalina express
Long Beach, Dana Point

Catalina Flyer

Newport Beach

Discount Disney's California Adventure tickets


Knotts Berry Farm
Buena Park

Discount Medieval Times tickets

Buena Park

Discount Pirates Dinner Adventure tickets

Buena Park

Discount Legoland California tickets


Discount San Diego Zoo tickets

San Diego

San Diego

Discount SeaWorld tickets