Luttjohann reports good news for Catalina’s economy

Visitors arrive at Catalina Island. Photo by David N. Young

Most measures of visitor economy met, exceeded pre-pandemic levels

According to Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of Love Catalina, the Island’s economy met or exceeded pre-pandemic measures of success in most cases.

The non-profit Love Catalina Island, also known as the Catalina Island Tourism Authority, recently released December 2022 visitor statistics and year-end report.

“The total number of visitors who came to Catalina Island in 2022 was 1,094,543, putting us back in the range of pre-pandemic counts at about 1 million annual visitors. The previous record highest visitor count was set in 2017 and totaled 1,097,500 or a difference of only 2,957 people,” Luttjohann wrote.

“For 2022 Cross Channel Carriers combined passenger counts (Catalina Express and the Catalina Flyer) were the highest on record for any calendar year at 741,902 visitors reported,” Luttjohann wrote.

“Private air passengers arriving at the Airport in the Sky also set a record in 2022 with 20,814 visitors counted while travelers arriving via Cruise Ship (258,945), Helicopter (17,182) or Private Boat (55,700), were all higher than many pre-pandemic years, but did not set new records in 2022,” Luttjohann wrote

Overnight visitors are another feature of the local economy.

“The first quarter of 2022 saw the highest volume of visitors since 2018 and is the third highest first quarter on record for visitor counts. During that same timeframe, Hotel Occupancy set records in January and was less than 1 point off of any previous record in February,” Luttjohann wrote.

“The second quarter exceeded all visitor counts on record for the months of April-June, and hotel occupancy set new records in April and May,” Luttjohann wrote.

“Based solely on hotel occupancy, peak summer travel for overnight guests was down slightly from pre-pandemic levels,” Luttjohann wrote.

“Marketing efforts for the first two quarters of the year laser targeted households with interest in traveling and with the discretionary income to do so, while we have intentionally not promoted summer travel to the island for several years,” Luttjohann wrote.

“By not promoting summer travel, we can reduce the risk of overtourism and improve the resident and visitor experience for all on Catalina Island in the months of July, August and September,” Luttjohann wrote.

“Short term rental occupancy was on par with last year but well above pre-pandemic levels. At year-end average twelve-month occupancy for short term rentals was 57.2% according to AIR DNA. Pre-pandemic year end totals more typically rested around 35% to 40%.,” Luttjohann wrote.

“According to the city of Avalon, Visitor Driven Revenues as of year-end were $19,099,941 with Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT/Bed Tax) making up $8,829,596 of that revenue,” Luttjohann wrote.

“Total Tourism Driven Revenues set a record in 2022, as did TOT,” Luttjohann wrote.