Beat Plastic Pollution

California tourism is slowly recovering, a new report says

Good morning and welcome to the AM Alert!

CALIFORNIA TOURISM IS STILL IN A PANDEMIC SLUMP, THOUGH THINGS ARE IMPROVING

Visitors to California spent 46% more in 2021 than they did in the prior year, according to a recent update from Visit Californiathe state’s tourism marketing organization, but the travel and hospitality industries continue to suffer due to international travel restrictions and a reluctance to return to business meetings and conventions.

“After a devastating 2020, visitor spending is on the stairway to recovery, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, in a statement. “Cities continue to suffer without the critical international and group business segments.”

According to the report, visitor-generated tax revenue increased by a third, to $9.8 billion, in 2021. However, tourism jobs, which were halved at the beginning of the pandemic, increased 6.4% to a total of 927,000.

California’s total visitor spending remained just 69% of what was recorded in 2019, the last year before the pandemic began. Just one county, Trinity County in northwest California, recorded visitor spending that beat the 2019 mark, according to Visit California.

Cities have been particularly slow to recover, according to the report. San Francisco notched $6.1 billion in visitor spending in 2021, compared to $14.2 billion in visitor spending in 2019.

International travelers, who spent nearly $28 billion in California in 2019, spent just $5.4 billion in 2021.

Despite all that, Beteta said that there is cause for optimism.

“The increases in 2021 overall show Visit California’s marketing programs are working,” Beteta said. “The tourism industry and the state need to continue working hand-in-hand to get the word out that California is open for business.”

BONTA LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO EXXONMOBIL

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced what he described as a first-of-its-kind investigation into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries, “for their role in causing and exacerbating the global plastics pollution crisis,” according to his office.

The first step in the investigation? A subpoena for ExxonMobilseeking information on that company’s role “in deceiving the public.”

“In California and across the globe, we are seeing the catastrophic results of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long campaign of deception. Plastic pollution is seeping into our waterways, poisoning our environment, and blighting our landscapes,” Bonta said in a statement. “The truth is: The vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled, and the recycling rate has never surpassed 9%. Every week, we consume the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. This first-of-its-kind investigation will examine the fossil fuel industry’s role in creating and exacerbating the plastics pollution crisis — and what laws, if any, have been broken in the process.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

It’s not a quote, but five state senators — Susan Rubio, Bill Dodd, Connie Leyva, Sydney Kamlager and Steven Bradford — let their feet do the talking on Friday, as they celebrated International Dance Day. Check it out!

Best of the Bee:

Critically endangered adult salmon are again swimming above a century-old dam in this remote corner of far Northern California in the shadow of the Mount Lassen volcano. But this isn’t a habitat-restoration success story — at least not yet, via Ryan Sabalow.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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