The Goleta City Council received a presentation from Visit Santa Barbara on Tuesday highlighting its annual visitor profile and the economic impact of tourism for the region, including Goleta. 

Visit Santa Barbara is the destination marketing organization for the city of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County’s South Coast and surrounding communities, said Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara.

Its mission is to promote the area as a premier destination for business and leisure travel. 

The organization’s membership includes hoteliers, attractions, restaurants, retail businesses and other visitor services.

Part of its funding comes from the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) and Goleta-specific marketing is completed with that money. The South Coast is among more than 100 California communities that have a TBID, according to Janega-Dykes.

Goleta is a tourism destination,  Janega-Dykes said, and tourism is an economic engine and regional tourism partnerships is a successful model.

“It truly has evolved as a tourism destination,” she said of Goleta. “I remember 15 years ago when I started, and there were few hotels and lodging facilities that frankly a lot of your residents are enjoying.

“There were few restaurants, so the guests that stayed had to go to Santa Barbara for dining experiences or going out in the evening, but it’s completely transformed and become a beautiful destination,” she continued.

During the council’s comments, Mayor Pro Tempore Stuart Kasdin responded, “I can reassure you that people recognize there are a lot of hotels now — I hear from our constituents about hotels.”

David Reichbach, director of analytics and data security at the San Francisco-based Destination Analysts, released findings from its 2016-17 Santa Barbara South Coast Visitor Profile and Tourism Economic Impact Study, which aims to understand visitors and the impact of their spending in the South Coast. 

The five research studies in the South Coast area included visitor intercept surveys, hotel guest surveys, a survey of meeting planners, a survey of hoteliers and telephone surveys of homes in the area, Reichbach explained.

The tourism market research company compromised data from September 2016 to August 2017.

The South Coast welcomed an estimated 7.2 million visitors, Reichbach said. Visitors spent about $1.9 billion in the region and more than 13,000 jobs in the South Coast area were supported by the tourism industry.

About 1.5 million visitors came to Goleta last year, Reichbach said, and direct visitor spending was more than $200 million.

“Over 70 percent of that spending ($200 million) comes from hotel guests,” Reichbach said. “These are visitors from out of town, staying overnight and spending at restaurants and shopping.”

More than 1,200 direct jobs in Goleta were generated by the visitor industry, Reichbach said.

Goleta’s visitor industry generates more than $12 million in taxes for the city.

Hotel tax in Goleta generates an estimated 67 percent, followed by property tax with 17 percent and sales tax with 16 percent.

The benefits of tourism include tax dollars that assist essential city services and employment opportunities for residents. 

Tourism supports Goleta businesses, attractions and restaurants that could not survive based only on local customers, Reichbach said.

“Tourism does affect the quality of life of residents in ways that you might not expect,” he said. “If tourism vanished from Goleta, and just had resident spending, in order to keep up the same level of economic engine each resident would have to spend an additional $6,311 every year — to keep the same taxes generated.”

Organizations like the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visit Santa Barbara act as economic development engines, Janega-Dykes said.

The city’s chamber of commerce receives $160,000 annually from the South Coast TBID to use for its own marketing efforts. It’s an amount that has historically been matched by the city to fund the marketing infrastructure. 

“I encourage you to continue investing in the Goleta Chamber, so that they continue to build the infrastructure that is needed for this area,” Janega-Dykes told council members.

Destination marketing is a competitive landscape, Janega-Dykes explained.

Working together to leverage opportunities and create economies of scale through regional marketing partnership makes the region competitive in the global landscape. 

“There are strong brands all over the world,” Janega-Dykes said.

Visit Santa Barbara markets the area to attract all types of visitors — not just leisure travelers, but also meetings, conferences, weddings, events and film and television production are also part of the organization’s purview, Janega-Dykes said.

“Not only is Goleta a gateway to the wine country to the north and adjacent to the university (UC Santa Barbara), but there are more attractions in Goleta whether that’s in the form of new lodging properties, new restaurants, new craft breweries and even more,” Janega-Dykes said.

Also on Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that calls for a pay hike for council members with new wages in effect January 2019. However, the ordinance would become null and void if voters in November approve Measure W that would increase the annual salaries for all council members based on median income. 

A second reading of the ordinance will occur during a council meeting in October in the Goleta City Hall Council Chamber, 130 Cremona Dr., Suite B.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.