Nearly 1 million people work in California's travel industry, a record high that surpasses the pre-recession peak, according to a new study.
Total employment in the wide-ranging travel field hit 956,800 last year, according to the report commissioned by the California Travel & Tourism Commission. That tops the 928,800 who worked in the industry in 2008 just as the last recession was taking hold.
The industry grew 3.2% last year, generating $109.6 billion in spending in the fourth straight year of expansion.
Travel spending in Los Angeles County hit $23 billion, according to the report from the marketing and research firm of Dean Runyan Associates of Portland, Ore. That was second to the San Francisco Bay Area, which had at $26.8 billion.
"California tourism is on the rise, and that means new potential for creating jobs and increasing economic impact throughout the state," said Caroline Beteta, chief executive of Visit California, a nonprofit group that promotes travel to the state.
Spending on travel — including hotels, transportation, restaurants and amusement parks — generated $2.8 billion in local taxes and $4.3 billion in state taxes last year, the report said.
The tourism board pointed to the higher tax revenue as a reason the state should spend more to promote California to tourists across the country and the world.