Perhaps you’re considering the purchase of a Napa Valley property because you’ve visited and come to love our gracious communities and unparalleled environment. You would not be alone in admiring the landscape and amenities of Napa Valley: nearly 4 million people visited in 2018. Visit Napa Valley provides extensive market research on the people who travel to this area and their impact on our local economy. Since 2012, its reports tell quite a story of the benefits of tourism to Napa Valley’s residents.
Unlike some areas where tourism may be a burden, we’ve managed to seamlessly blend real estate, local businesses and the lifestyles of our residents with world-class travel experiences for our visitors. In 2018, tourism contributed more than $2.2 billion to the local economy. This stunning number is only expected to grow in the years to come, and fortunately, tourism is also expected to continue to blend well with the Napa Valley lifestyle we all value so highly.
How does tourism benefit residents economically?
Visit Napa Valley considers much more than economic impact in its reports that analyze tourism’s benefits to our region, but economic benefits are, frankly, stunning. When visitors arrive in Napa Valley, their spending begins immediately and contributes not just to lodging but also to our retail and food industries. We may not often think of our many extraordinary wineries and tasting rooms as “retail,” but they are part of this sector. $740 million of the $2.2 billion spent by our visitors in 2018, was spent in retail businesses, primarily wineries and wine-tasting rooms.
Napa Valley tourism is also driven by fine food culture
Visitors spent over $470 billion in our local restaurants and related food businesses, which is second only to retail spending. Numbers don’t tell the whole story: Napa Valley restaurants are a world-class food destination. As I write this, we’re amid Napa Valley’s Restaurant Week, which grows more exciting and delicious each year. It seems these weeks are becoming ubiquitous, with nearly every city or area sponsoring annual events with prix fixe menus for all tastes and budgets. These locations, however, don’t boast the number of Michelin-starred restaurants and outstanding wineries that we enjoy in Napa Valley.
It seems that food tastes come in waves, and this year, we’re feeling a little more casual and fresh around Napa Valley. I like the vibe of Boon Fly Café at Carneros, which puts the cultural and agricultural heritage of Napa Valley directly on lunch and dinner tables. Another plus at Boon Fly: they serve brunch every day of the week until 4 p.m. It’s really impossible to single out any one of our restaurants, however. From the Culinary Institute of America’s CIA Copia to incredible curated tastes at The Restaurant at Meadowood, our dining experiences not only attract but also satisfy an audience of world culinary travelers and food enthusiasts.
Diverse ways to visit and accommodations enrich Napa Valley tourism
People who visit Napa Valley sometimes come for the day (“day trippers”), but many stay in our local spas, B&Bs and hotels, and some are guests in private homes. Altogether, 3.85 million people visited our region in 2018. Their collective spending amounted to $2.2 billion. Slightly more than half were repeat visitors, and I can’t blame them at all. A little over 48% were first-time visitors, and it’s likely they will also return as soon as they can.
Most visitors were vacationing for longer periods, but about 30% were taking weekend trips. Of course, many also visited for weddings, special events, or personal reasons, or to attend a conference.
Where did the visitors come from? Eight out of 10 are domestic travelers, but the remaining 20% are international visitors, coming from destinations all around the world.
Measuring tourism benefits to our residents
The tourism industry’s contribution to our local tax base and its ability to provide needed services for our communities can’t be underestimated. In 2018, the tourism industry contributed over $85 million in taxes to our town and county governments. The funds support our infrastructure and community services throughout the Valley.
Not everyone in Napa Valley owns a winery or a luxury estate property. Many of our residents work in the Valley, and the tourism industry supports their jobs and families. We have healthy year-round community and cultural activities, along with great schools, thanks to almost 16,000 jobs provided by restaurants, lodging establishments, and retail businesses led by wineries and tasting rooms.
Blending tourism in Napa Valley with local lifestyles
People come to this beautiful area to sample some of the finest wines in the world and enjoy cuisine prepared by some of the world’s most renowned chefs. They’re also drawn by the laid-back yet sophisticated vibe of our historic communities. Whether they’re aloft in a hot air balloon looking down on the patchwork of towns and vineyards scattered throughout the Valley or playing lawn games and sipping wine at Meadowood Resort, visitors recognize that they’re in one of the world’s truly special places. I’m certain this is why so many return year after year. I also think that the sophistication and world class cultural events and festivals held here each year are important contributors to the value of our wine country properties.
We can quickly bring to mind tourist destinations where the local industry brings in money, but also severely impacts the quality of life for residents. Some areas suffer from littering, traffic congestion, poor air quality, and degradation of the environment. Our communities have not only managed to retain their historic small-town charm, thanks to the Ag Preserve, but they can and do serve as models for how to integrate tourism seamlessly with the local economy and lifestyle. Napa Valley tourism is enriching our communities in many ways far beyond tax dollars, and we’re all looking forward to the benefits that Visit Napa Valley’s 2020 tourism report will reveal.