Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Wed May 06 2015

Drought, Strong U.S. Dollar Threaten to Impact California's Tourism Growth

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | May 06, 2015

Drought, Strong U.S. Dollar Threaten to Impact California's Tourism Growth

Despite a record year for tourism in California in 2014 that saw 251 million people visit the Golden State, officials are concerned about the potential impact of the ongoing drought as well as the strengthening of the U.S. dollar.

According to Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times, while the concern is that the drought could negatively affect tourism in the state's rural counties, the beefed-up U.S. dollar is a more immediate and potentially far-reaching concern as it has resulted in foreign destinations like Europe becoming more affordable for American travelers, and California becoming a more expensive destination for foreign travelers.

"The big threat in my mind isn't the drought, it's the dollar," said San Diego State University's school of hospitality and tourism management director Carl Winston via Martin.

Martin reports that California's nonprofit tourism agency, Visit California, has joined the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board in boosting marketing efforts across the globe in an effort to fight the aforementioned threats.

The proposed budget increase would be a significant one, with Visit California eyeing an 87 percent increase over the current budget, requesting $116 million. 

Fortunately, adding to California's allure and that of the Los Angeles area in particular is a multitude of new attractions set to open in the coming months. Among the highlights are Universal Studios Hollywood's "Fast and Furious" thrill ride, which will launch in late June, and Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration later this month in nearby Anaheim. 

But while these and other attractions will continue to generate buzz and in spite of the fact visitation to California jumped three percent from 2013 to 2014, the ongoing drought and strengthening U.S. dollar combine to threaten the state's impressive growth rate. 

That's evidenced by its tourism agency's ramped up efforts. 

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