Tourist spending sets record in Oceanside in 2017

Restaurants, improved economy spurs spending
Posted at 6:43 AM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 09:43:22-04

Tourism spending in Oceanside set a record in 2017, with visitors shelling out $351 million last year.

The new numbers, from a study by Dean Runyon Associates, were announced at the city's 8th annual Tourist Summit.

"It’s an exciting time in Oceanside," says Visit Oceanside CEO Leslee Gaul. "We’re really going through renaissance here."

The city has had seven straight years of growth in tourist spending. The numbers in 2017 were 10.1% higher than 2016. Employment in the industry is also growing steadily. Tourism supports more than 3,300 jobs in Oceanside, and jobs in that sector have had averaged a 5.1% increase since 2010.

Tourists spent $240 million on hotel rooms in 2017. That's up 11% from the year before, and it's twice the amount they spent in 2010. That gave the city $7 million in Transient Occupancy Taxes, money that goes directly into the city's general fund to pay for city services, infrastructure, parks and more.

Gaul thinks more people are coming to Oceanside because the city offers a more laid-back version of the Southern California lifestyle.

"We’re still one of the classics, Southern California beach communities," she says. "We really have what appeals to visitors today. They’re looking for that local, authentic experience and I think being slow to grow over the past few years has really been a benefit to our community."

Local business owners say the increase in tourists is helping them expand as well. Arthur Escobar owns Oceanside Boat Rentals. He says business is so good, he's already bought two new boats for this summer season. He expects to buy two more by the end of the summer. He's also hiring 7 or 8 more employees for the season.

"This is a nice, friendly town," says Escobar. "There's no hustle and bustle, The beach here is incredible, three miles of big sandy beaches, you don’t get that most places."

The study also showed a significant increase in spending at local restaurants. Gaul thinks that's part of what's fueling the city's renaissance. 

"There have been dozens of new restaurants opening in the last few years, and we have more on the horizon," she says.

There are also more hotels planned, including a pair of new properties near the iconic Oceanside Pier. One will be a resort-style hotel with 226 rooms. The other is a boutique-style hotel that will have 160 rooms and incorporate a renovation of the Top Gun house.