MCHA logo - links to homepage

Appreciating the Benefits of a Tourism-Based Community

Hospitality Tourism Report
March 26, 2024

From jobs to TOT funds, visitor spending supports the local economy

Artists like John Steinbeck, Francis McComas and Henry Miller have long been inspired by Monterey County’s beauty. It’s no wonder that residents and tourists alike also treasure local landscapes, from sunrises over the bay to that signature green flash when the sun dips into the sea.

Classic cars, great golf, fine art, award-winning wines and top attractions also draw visitors here, and those guests fuel a $3 billion tourism industry that drives the area economy.

Local visitor spending creates widespread benefits. Tourism dollars support air and ground transportation businesses; food service operations, including restaurants, cafes, and grocers; lodging companies, via hotels, motels, campgrounds and bed and breakfast inns; and entertainment venues. Other industries benefit too, including trucking and product transport, farming, agriculture, viticulture, banking, government, schools, medical systems and construction. It all adds up to more sales, employment, wages, and tax revenues.

And hospitality’s benefits extend beyond the economy, explains Paige Viren, executive director of the sustainable hospitality management program at California State University, Monterey Bay.

"While the economy is often the focus, environmental, and social considerations are essential for any destination’s long-term health and success," she says. "Tourism has the potential to contribute to a balanced and healthy economy by generating tourism-related jobs, improving infrastructure, and preserving the destination's cultural, historical, and natural resources for the enjoyment and well-being of both residents and visitors." 

“The more we understand about the cycle of tourism in this community, and how it funnels into all kinds of goods and services, the better we can appreciate the breadth of what it offers to both locals and guests – while creating job opportunities and career pathways for those in the industry,” says Kristin Horton, executive director of the MCHA. “We are a tourism-based community. It is the heart and soul of our home.”

More than 25,000 individuals work in Monterey County’s tourism industry. The visitors they serve spend their money with hotels, restaurants, art galleries, gift shops, tour operators, transportation services, cultural events and various small businesses. On top of that, a transient occupancy tax (TOT) of 10.5% charged to overnight hotel guests funds infrastructure, parks, and vital services in jurisdictions across the county.

“People within the City of Monterey, for example, disburse the TOT among neighborhood improvement projects in various parts of the city,” says Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams. 

“Without question,” she adds, “tourism is the most important industry we have on the west side of the county. In addition to the more obvious components like hotels, food, and wine, so many smaller industries rely on tourism, as well.”

Many of us who are fortunate to live on the Monterey Peninsula are fortunate enough to travel. And when we do, says Adams, we realize the difference it makes when we go into a community where people are welcoming, encouraging, willing to give directions, and ready to share their history, culture and home. 

“I value the folks in our community who have a welcoming approach to tourists,” Adams said. “I notice it out on the Recreation Trail along the Monterey Bay, and on a street corner in Carmel, where locals are sketching out directions, suggesting a restaurant, or sharing a little local history. It’s important to pay our good fortune forward to the visitors here.”

There’s nothing like personal experience to foster connections. Consider becoming a tourist right here at home. Make a dinner reservation. Stay a night or two in local inn or hotel. Wander the Rec Trail, and spend some time as a guest in your own backyard.

Remember, those of us lucky enough to live in Monterey County might have once been tourists ourselves. Or maybe we come from families who were once newcomers awed by that first view of the bay. The travelers drawn to the magic of this place also support the businesses that make this such a great community to call home.


MCHA is proud to partner with the following organizations and sponsors.
Become a partner/sponsor today
© 2024 Monterey County Hospitality Association. All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram