The Travel & Tourism Industry Plays a Critical Role in Restoring the Economy

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Main News Photo

By Bryan Starr, President & CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber
As published in the Orange County Business Journal, June 29, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic caused global economic hardship with the travel industry being the hardest hit, even more so than it was during the Great Recession. Prior to the pandemic, travel spending in Irvine contributed nearly $781 million to the city’s economy, supporting nearly 6,000 jobs, and generating nearly $50 million in state and local tax revenue. In 2020 there was a nearly 57% decline in travel spending and aloss of approximately 1,570 jobs, proving just how important the economic impact of corporate meetings and sporting events are to the Irvine community.

According to the 2019 and 2020 Visitor Impact reports conducted specifically for Irvine and the State of California by Dean Runyan Associates, on behalf of Destination Irvine and Visit California, Orange County as a whole also saw travel spending decrease by 57% year over year. In comparison, the U.S. travel industry contracted 36% in 2020, whereas California's travel economy declined 55% from $144.9 billion in 2019 to $65.1 billion in 2020.

Despite losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, Orange County is well positioned for recovery, due to the state reopening, U.S. vaccination numbers continuing to increase, and the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions. Leisure travel continues to rise with more than three-quarters of Americans planning to take a trip this summer signaling that pent-up demand generates bookings.

Destination Irvine’s role of marketing and selling Irvine as a preferred overnight destination for groups, sports events, leisure visitors, and business travelers, is playing a significant role in the recovery of travel to the city and lending to increased visitor spending for the betterment of the community.

Group business is returning to Irvine. May was the fourth consecutive month our destination sales team received more than 20 leads for future group business, the most since March 2020. In the past four months, Destination Irvine has booked nearly 4,900 room nights worth nearly $1.5 million in economic impact for the city.

Destination Irvine increased its leisure marketing to include Visit California opportunities leveraging the state’s popularity as a desirable travel destination. And, we’ve allocated additional dollars to our Expedia and TripAdvisor campaigns, which generate a very strong return on investment.

To learn about things to do right here in Irvine—many, hidden gems—I invite you to visit          

For assistance with planning your Irvine meeting or event, contact AnaLaura Beccera at or (949) 502-4127. 

Hosting a Meeting in Irvine Supports the Local Economy & Enhances the Quality of Life for Residents

When conferences and meetings are held in Irvine, transient occupancy tax revenues (paid by hotel guests) and sales tax revenues are generated through visitors dining and shopping, etc. These taxes help support services like police, fire, and education. So it makes economic sense if you are an Irvine-based company or organization to host your annual or corporate meeting in Irvine. If you serve on a board of a state, national, or international association that has an annual conference or regional meeting, help support Irvine as a meeting destination and hold your meeting in Irvine. Destination Irvine offers Irvine-based companies financial incentives to encourage locally planned meetings, the Loyalty Pays Off program.

To learn about the Loyalty Pays Off program, visit, or contact AnaLaura Becerra at or (949) 502-4127.

Category: Chamber News, Travel and Tourism, Economic News, Destination Irvine, California, Irvine, Bryan Starr, Orange County Business Journal