As Yolo County — and the city of Davis — strive to highlight their appeal as travel destinations, they’ve been spurred by pent-up demand from those who’ve delayed travel for much of the pandemic.
According to Terry Selk, Executive Director of Visit Yolo, “Until about two months ago, the intent and demand for domestic travel was exploding.
“In fact,” he told two Davis City Council members at a meeting last week, “many destinations were reporting much higher visitor traffic…and occupancy than even before. COVID, before 2019”.
But high gas prices and interest rates, along with inflation, are starting to have an impact.
“There’s a reduction in some of that demand and intent,” Selk said. “Demand and intent to travel over the next two months has fallen six to eight points. Demand and intent to travel in the fall is holding up, but if these factors persist, if prices for gasoline (remain high) and inflation and interest rates, this could start to erode further.
On the positive side, Selk said that in the last week of May, he had 31 international travel vendors in Yolo County for four days and “their introduction to Yolo County was like a breath of fresh air. costs.
“Most had never been here and in fact many had never been to the Sacramento area and they were very excited about what we had to show them in terms of authenticity and tourism experience. agricultural, less congestion, easy access, affordable price.”
He saw many of those customers again a week later at a major travel show, and they continued to rave about how they had found a “replacement for Napa Valley” in Yolo County.
“They were tired of sending customers to a pretentious, expensive, less fulfilling destination and were looking for something more authentic. So we certainly caught their attention there.
Additionally, Selk said they were pleased with the geographically accessible nature of the region and its location between two major travel destinations, which is increasingly what people want when traveling.
“We are hearing more and more that customers don’t want to go to the big cities and if they do, they don’t want to stay there very long. They’re more inclined to go to places they’ve never heard of or visited before, so I walked away from this big international show that I went to — and I’ve been doing this show for 33 years — and I will tell you that the business meetings I had were the most genuinely interested and dialogue-enriching I have ever had in my 33 years at this show.
“I feel like we have the right product at the right time in terms of how the world has changed its travel interests. I think we are in a very good position to capitalize on this spike in interest and really start to see movement.
One thing to keep in mind, he told Gloria Partida and Dan Carson — the two Davis City Council members who serve on a joint city/Visit Yolo committee — is that fears about crime deter people. people to go to certain places.
“It seems like every week there’s some kind of shooting or theft or crime issue and it seems to be more visible,” Selk said.
“People become much more sensitive to which destinations they choose to travel to based on their premise for the crime and…if they have traveled somewhere and had some sort of negative engagement or encounter with a sans -shelter or a homeless environment, then that destination becomes less attractive to them for future travel.
“This crime that the nation knows about,” Selk said, “certainly has a subliminal economic impact on things like travel. People want to travel where they’re going to feel safe or comfortable walking the streets or being in certain areas…so that’s something that we always have to consciously think about – what message does our destination convey through the level of crime, the type of crime?”
He cited the city of San Francisco as an example.
“Conventions and conferences are refusing to return to the city because of some of the things that have happened to their conference attendees or people are reluctant to drive their cars in public spaces in San Francisco because they are being robbed. So it’s something that we don’t always think about, but it’s certainly an important part of the matrix that supports the journey to a destination.
Carson noted that the city recently surveyed residents — not visitors as Selk was talking about — “and (crime) became the number three issue people mentioned…although we asked our police chief to tell us. report.
“We’re curious because the crime numbers year over year don’t line up with that and one possible explanation is… there’s this national discussion and debate and we know national discussions have a impact on local opinions. But there may be more to this… We don’t want to take these concerns lightly at all.
Partida told Selk, “I hear what you’re saying about the impact that the perception of security has on the places people visit.”
She described an encounter in San Francisco last week where a homeless man ventured into a store she had just walked into.
“And a security guard (guard) came in behind the homeless man and asked the store owner if everything was ok and the homeless man left the store right away and I just noticed…how it got an impact on my experience. So I definitely felt safer. While I don’t mind as long as homeless people are in my space, it was interesting to notice how this interaction made me feel.
For more information on Visit Yolo and its activities, visit http://visityolo.com.
— Contact Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.
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