Coronavirus

Survey Predicts Santa Cruz County Tourism Will Return

Survey finds tourists are feeling better about planning vacations

Crowds file through the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk during the Fourth of July weekend in 2020. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

The county’s tourism hotspots—along with its restaurants and hotels—can expect a slight uptick in business this summer from Californians seeking to take short road trips, according to a survey released Wednesday by Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC).

This prediction is compared to 2019, not last year—when the Covid-19 pandemic all but decimated the tourism industry.

But now, with a year of the crisis in the rearview mirror and increasing numbers of people having received their vaccines, the survey finds that tourists—most of which are within driving distance of Santa Cruz County—are feeling better about planning vacations.

The majority of visitors, the survey finds, will come by car. Crowded indoor activities will likely be less popular, since half of travelers want to avoid crowds.

The study results include data such as visitor demographics and preferences and opinions of travelers to the region.

This Visitor Sentiment Survey is the first of its kind by VSCC. It was created after VSCC mailed invitations to 60,000 newsletter subscribers, and received responses from 4,501.

“The results of the research study are gratifying,” said VSCC CEO Maggie Ivy. “We’re very encouraged by the results, indicating our likely customers are ready to travel again.”

According to the survey, 61% of respondents in VSCC’s Primary Drive Market (PDM)—defined as a 200-mile radius from Santa Cruz—have positive feelings about traveling right now, while 16% have definite plans for travel. 

Monterey, national and state parks, San Francisco, Napa and Lake Tahoe are all competitors in Santa Cruz’s PDM.

The results also show that travelers are ready to go on overnight trips, and that most county residents are willing to welcome visitors.

Older travelers need more safety reassurances than younger ones, the survey shows.

Also, although many potential travelers plan on receiving their vaccines before embarking on their trips, few plan to vaccinate their children.

Respondents also said they want to see clear and obvious signs that employees in restaurants and hotels are taking Covid-19 precautions seriously. This includes housekeeping staff continuously touching up and sanitizing high-touch public surfaces, posted safety notices, mask-wearing and social distancing.

For more information, contact VSCC at 831-425-1234 or visitsantacruz.org. To see the survey, visit bit.ly/3ttH26Q.

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