With half the year over the transom, visitation numbers for Catalina Island are less than stellar, but numbers are keeping pace with last year.
According to Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, a combination of unusual holiday and weather patterns have made for choppy, seasonal visitation so far this year. The year began “very strong,” he said, but “was weaker for spring.” The summer season is now underway, and volume has picked up again.
Because of a large volume of construction (Von’s, Zane Grey, etc.), Luttjohann said hotels on the island are enjoying better than average occupancy, as workers fill the rooms during the week and tourists take them on weekends.
In other sectors, however, he said there are some mixed reports. “Some people have told me business was in bit down in May, for instance, while others tell me they are having a great season.”
This year’s so-called Spring Break season was perhaps affected by an unusual overlapping of break periods for schools, he said, whereas in the past they occurred at different times and this year a number of them were “stacked” on top of each other.
Also, he said, a number of “foggy” weather days are keeping many “daytrippers” off the island this year.
Overall, however, the numbers are still up for the year, although just barely. Luttjohann said he does not think the deficit in restaurant seats are having any overall impact on Catalina tourism.
Luttjohann said cross channel visitors remains strong, but shows little growth over last year’s count.
The year to date passenger count at the end of June was 468,913. “June was a strong month for us,” he said, adding that “by all but one measure we were up in visitor counts.”
Here are the latest numbers released by the Chamber:
• Total inbound for June, 115,168
• Arrivals by sea, combined cruise and cross channel carriers were 101,412, up 1.8 percent ovet last year.
• Cross channel carriers ferried 81,729 people to the island, accounting for 70.97 percent of total visitors and up 2.1 percent year over year.
• Cruise carriers deliver 21,337 visitors in June, down .03 percent year over year.
• Private boats brought 6,864 visitors in June, down 5.5 percent year over year.
• Air carriers brought 1,395 visitors, down 0.2 percent year over year.
• Air charters did show growth, as private helicopters delivered 1,919 visitors, up 9.2 percent year over year.
Following the end of the summer season, the Chamber will soon begin its fall targeted campaign for the fall, featuring the October Jazz Trax festival.