Can Americans Afford to Travel to the West Coast?

In a recent Huffington Post article, David Landsel helps American travelers with helpful ways to afford an exciting trip to the west coast. For the past five decades, California has been one of the most popular destinations for travelers in the United States and abroad for good reason. This populous U.S. state is filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes, breathtaking ocean views, and some of the best restaurants in the world. Although California undoubtedly holds certain fascinations for every type of traveler, the trip can also be quite costly for the average American traveler. Because California holds some of the most expensive markets for hotel stays, restaurants, and local travel (taxi cabs, trains, etc.), it has become unrealistic for some families to make a trip to the Golden State, as much as they may desire to go. David Landsel of the Huffington Post has developed a list of tips and strategies that can make this trip more affordable and fun for the average American.

 

Finding Cheaper Hotel Rates

 

One of the most costly portions of any traveling experience is the fee associated with temporary residence. Hotel rates combined with the hotel tax and adjusted fees can make trip to the west coast almost unbearable even for upper middle class Americans. By finding alternatives to expensive hotels, travelers can make their trips 70 percent cheaper than if they booked hotels at their normal costs. By opting to use travel sites designed to find the lowest hotel rates combined with lowered plane rates, Americans have considerably lowered their west coast travel bill. Websites that offer alternative housing for temporary trips like Airbnb, are also quite beneficial to those seeking less expensive travel to the west coast.

 

 

 

 

West Coast Oil Resistance Could Boost Tourism

The past several weeks have been great news for those interested in traveling to the West Coast, but were hesitant about exposing themselves to the polluted climate there. Several key states along the West Coast have decided to make a stand against the oil industry, ensuring that their environment can finally be protected from prolonged exposure to all of the chemicals commonly associated with the oil industry.

 

In terms of specific states, Washington and California seem to primarily be leading the charge against the major oil industry players. This shift in politics also represents a shift in public opinion. While people have been content to let large industries have their way with the land, there’s been a rising trend in environmental awareness, especially on the West Coast.

 

Although this may seem like a poor economic move at first, it’s likely that this will have a tremendous impact on the already booming tourist industry along the West Coast. By stopping the oil industry from continuing to expand or negatively impact the environment unabated, the West Coast has opened itself up to new possibilities for tourists. While it will likely take some time before the effects of these new regulations and proposals are observed, it’s good to know that people will have a beautiful tourist opportunity well into the future.

 

Of course, in addition to having a positive effect on future tourism, these proposals also act as a sort of “ground zero” for future proposals in other states. It’s likely that rejecting the plans of companies like Shell will ripple out into other states where other city councils are debating similar plans.

 

Traveling To The West Coast May Be A Wet And Politically Charged Adventure

A late-season Pacific storm has Northern California in its crosshairs. Rain and damaging winds in Northern California seem to be the norm in April even though March was relatively dry. After four years of no rain, California is wet again, and the spectacular wildflower displays in central and southern California are proof that the drought is over. But California always has some sort of challenge to face, or goal to accomplish, whether it is the weather, environmental safety, water conservation or keeping Trump and his policies out of the state. California is a notoriously blue state. The Trump victory was an agonizing defeat for Californians. But they are not giving up the fight to one-up Trump on everything social and political. The California legislature just passed the largest gas tax increase ever. The gas tax increase is projected to raise more than $52 billion over the next ten years.

 

 

Instead of just talking about the crumbling infrastructure, California is doing something about the deteriorating bridges, roads and public transit systems. Falling oil prices, increase fuel efficiency and the popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles in the state has impacted tax revenue. The estimated shortfall in bridge and road repair money is $135 billion, and the 12-cent per gallon gas tax increase will plug the money drain a little. The state is also putting new taxes on diesel fuel, increasing registration fees, and adding a $100 annual fee on electric cars. California is the 18th state to increase gas taxes over the last four years. The Trump administration is talking about funding infrastructure initiatives, but Governor Jerry Brown is actually doing something about the issue. California will still need federal funds to address all the infrastructure challenges in the state, but the gas increase is a very important first step.

 

 

People traveling to California, and to other West Coast states, should pay attention to the weather patterns that seem to be wetter rather than dry this spring. Visitors should also be aware that the price of gas will make the trip to the West Coast more expensive. But in spite of the weather and politics, there is nothing like a trip to California in spring and early summer.

Travel Ban Could Impact California Tourism

While the new administration has made a lot of changes already, one of the most discussed is the travel ban. The new administration led by President Donald Trump has already proposed two different travel bans, which would temporarily prohibit people from six different Middle Eastern countries to enter the United States. While this issue has been discussed a lot due to its political impact, a recent news (http://www.presstelegram.com/lifestyle/20170326/travel-ban-proposals-making-california-tourism-industry-nervous) article has pointed out that it could have a big impact on the US economy as well.

 

The State of California is the most populated state in the United States and on a standalone basis would have one of the biggest economies in the world. While California has a strong economy in a variety of industries, it does have a big travel industry that relies on people coming in from all over the world. Overall, California brings in more than 17 million business and recreational travelers from all over the world.

 

While many of these travelers come from Europe, Asia, and Australia, there is still a big amount that comes from the Middle East. In fact, California has estimated that it could lose up to one million visitors in just the first three years of the new travel ban. This could have a very notable impact on the travel economy as it could easily eliminate close to $1 billion in travel-related revenue. International travelers tend to spend more money than domestic travelers on hotels, dining, and additional purchases. It has been estimated that the average foreign visitor spends $1400 in the state per visit, compared to $400 for a domestic visitor.

 

The fallout from this lost revenue could be pretty significant in California. Today, more than one million people in California work for hotels, airlines, and other tourism-focused companies. Some of these people even work for companies that target entertaining and hosting people from the banned countries. If the travel ban is ever fully approved and made into law, it could easily lead to a loss of jobs. Furthermore, this will lead to a loss of tax revenue, which could offset the current balanced budget in the state.

 

Norwegian Airlines Sees Growth in Flights to West Coast

One of the most popular airlines today with consumers is Norwegian Airlines. The airline is well known with consumers for offering comfortable service, in a relatively new airplane cabin, from secondary airports in the United States to destinations all over the world. They offer some year round flight options, but are also known to offer a range of chartered flights to certain destinations are certain times of the year to match demand.

 

While Norwegian Airlines has already offered a range of different flight options, it appears that they are now set to offer a new flight option to customers located in California (http://www.anna.aero/2017/04/03/norwegian-now-links-copenhagen-oakland/). The airline just announced that later this year it will be offering a new long-haul service from Oakland, California directly into Copenhagen. The new flight option will be available all year long, but will only have two direct flights each way per week. Flights will take place on Tuesdays and Saturdays eve week.

 

This will be only the latest flight option to and from Copenhagen offered by the airline. The airline currently has nine additional long-haul options offering directly flights to and from the United States and other key cities across the world. The other long-haul options include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Bangkok, and San Juan.

 

Those that are looking to travel to and from Europe from the Bay Area now have a lot of different options. While San Francisco has offered direct flights for years, Oakland has seen a big resurgence due to the airline. Those that want to fly out of the airport to Europe can now get direct flights into a number of different cities including Copenhagen, London, Oslo, and Stockholm. Due to the increased demand for flights into and out of the area, Norwegian Airlines is actively considering other airline and route options as well. At this point, Norwegian Airlines does not face any direct competition for these strategic flights, but there is a good chance that some of the other major airlines around the world will look for ways to compete with the growing and popular airline.

 

Scenic Train Rides on the West Coast

Desperation motivated my first train ride. My car had broken down in Stockton, California and I had just a few hours to get to work in San Jose. 75 miles never seemed so far. Ruling out the bus (too slow) and a taxi (too expensive) I found my way to the A.C.E. train station. A commuter train, the Altamont Corridor Express runs daily from Stockton to San Jose and back. Boarding with the low expectation of a boring ride, I was instead treated to a gorgeous scenic journey through pasture lands and lush canyons. And I could relax with my coffee and actually enjoy the scenery. The short trip opened my eyes to train travel. The following are two of my favorite west coast train rides.

 

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight

 

The Coast Starlight makes an epic 35-hour trip from Los Angeles to Seattle, winding its way through some of the most picturesque parts of California, Oregon and Washington states. The train boasts an observation car with floor to ceiling windows and comfortable, outward facing, chairs to take in the grandeur. The route parallels the California coast before heading inland through rolling hills and vineyards. Although a portion of the journey occurs overnight, you can still witness many amazing lakes and waterways including Lake Shasta, the Columbia River, the Willamette River, Puget Sound and more. Amtrak also permits you to get on and off the train as often as you like, allowing for an extended tour if desired.

 

 Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

 

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad offers a charming 90-minute trip on board a steam-powered locomotive. This small, tourist train offers a fully open car, a covered car and a fully enclosed and restored passenger car. You can even ride in the engine car for a small additional fee. The train ride is family friendly and allows dogs in the open car. The views of Tillamook Bay are unsurpassed and the surrounding marshlands also offer unforgettable views. The most popular train ride goes between the towns of Rockaway Beach and Garibaldi, with a brief 30-minute layover.

Planning a Trip to the West Coast

Whether you’re going to Disney World or just want to have fun on the beaches of California, carefully planning your trip will have a huge impact on your experience. From choosing the hotel to renting the car, there are a lot of things you’ll need to do before your trip can get underway.

 

The Californian coast is the least crowded during the autumn months. If you’re looking to travel to the state without the huge crowds that are often present, it’s important to go during the off-season. Planning out the trip months in advance also helps you to save a lot of money as flights and hotels will offer their best rates about four to six months before your trip happens.

 

First, you’ll need to figure out which airline you’ll be taking to get to California. The cheaper flights will have a lot of transfers, which can get annoying but will wind up saving you a lot of money on your trip. You can also choose to drive cross country, but expect this to take about a week if you’ll be coming from the east coast.

 

You need to rent a hotel for the entire time you’ll be staying to have a safe, comfortable place to rest. Hotels offer frequent stay rewards, so make use of these discounts if you travel a lot. The hotel may also offer cheaper rates if you’ll be getting there during the week as opposed to the weekend.

 

When you take a plane to California, you will need to rent a car to get around. Even if you’re planning on staying in Disney World, you may still need a car to get to different areas outside of the park. Car rentals can be pretty expensive, especially if you put additional insurance on the vehicle, but they are a necessary evil when traveling. Most car rental companies can be found inside the airport where you’ll be arriving.

 

Before you actually get to California, create an itinerary of what you and your family will be doing. This ensures that each day you’re there, you’re having lots of enjoyable fun and a trip you won’t soon forget.

 

Seattle Tourism Industry Seeks Improvements After Dismal Survey

By all accounts, Seattle should be a paradise for tourists; after all, the Emerald City is the home of Starbucks, the Mariners, a thriving independent music scene, a bustling tech industry, and a lot more. Unfortunately, a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates among 26,000 people who have visited the top 50 tourism markets in the U.S. indicates that Seattle is too expensive for most visitors.

 

Seattle is currently ranked 37th on the Top 50 list, which means that tourists are more fond of spots such as Jacksonville, Florida and even Columbus, Ohio. Altogether, the sentiment by 600 tourists who visited Seattle in recent months can be summed up as: “Nice city; too bad it is so expensive!”

 

Survey respondents complained about the high costs of lodging, entertainment and transportation while visiting Seattle; however, such complaints were not made about the cost of meals. The Seattle Times looked into the average cost of hotel rooms during the summer season in Seattle and found them costly at $193 per night, and this is for national chain hotels that offer the same amenities across many tourism markets.

 

Great Food, Not So Great Hospitality

 

Another aspect that Seattle seems to be lagging in is the friendliness of hospitality staff. Florida cities seem to be leading the nation in this regard, followed by California on the west coast.

 

Not all the answers provided by the survey respondents were negative. Seattle visitors seem to enjoy the city despite the constant drizzle, and they also gave high points to the diversity of cuisine and cultural event. The natural sights in the Puget Sound were also lauded, but the cost of the tours was not so enticing. The cleanliness and layout of the city also got high scores.

 

Overall, Seattle is not doing so bad as a West Coast travel destination. Portland, the progressive city in Oregon located in a much desirable climate, scored 42 on the aforementioned survey, and similar sentiments related to pricing and a certain lack of warmth emoted by hospitality workers were shared.

 

 

Alaska Airline Announces 13 Non-Stop Routes from West Coast the USA

Alaska Air, a Seattle- based airline, made one of its greatest announcements in early March 2017. The airline unveiled 13 non-stop routes from the West Coast USA that will begin their services on August 28, 2017. This follows the purchase of the Virgin America, a San Francisco-based airline in December 2016. The acquisition of the airline has seen Alaska become one of the dominant carriers in the whole of West Coast and the California area. The Alaska airline has in the past operated in Seattle and Portland other connections in the airport in Los Angele, California, San Jose, and San Diego.

 

 

Alaska Airline Expansion routes

 

 

Ten of the nonstop flights from Bay area will run from San Francisco International while three will operate from the Mineta San Jose International Airport for both leisure and business travels. The airline will offer 125 flights covering 42 destinations every day. Their destinations include Hawaii, Austin, Baltimore, Kona, and New Orleans. The company’s executives expressed their commitment towards creating an exceptional travel experience for their guests with a broad range of facilities that they have now acquired. The airline company will use the Virgin America all Airbus fleet and the Horizon Air’s Embraer E175 aircraft for the travel. Horizon Air already has 33 E175LRs that they acquired in February 2017, and they are still waiting for 30 more this April.

 

 

Alaska has experienced huge growth in the last five years adding to 13 nonstop routes and departing seats to the six that they had earlier announced. The six new Bay Area routes feature Orlando, Orange County, Newark, Minneapolis, Burbank, and Mexico City.

 

 

The Future of Alaska and Virgin Merger

 

 

The company’s CEO, Brad Tilden says that the two will continue to run under their brands as they make considerations on whether to merge the two into one single brand. The company terms this as one of the largest market announcement that it has had in its history. However, the executives did not give detailed information about the future look of the Virgin Airlines, although they promised to make more expansions to the combined route network.

Oregon’s Pristine Natural Beauty Attracts International Visitors

Travel Oregon, the professional organization in charge of promoting tourism across the Beaver State, is enjoying the success of its ongoing marketing campaign. One of the keys to this newfound success is to highlight the abundant natural beauty that can be found around Oregon, and one of the main attractions happens to be the only national park in the state.

 

Crater Lake is the only nature preserve in Oregon that is under federal management as all others are managed at the state level. Over the last two years, Crater Lake has enjoyed a significant increase in terms of visitors, including 64,000 Chinese tourists who visited in 2014. In 2016, nearly 756,000 people visited the park, which offer 184,000 acres to explore.

 

One of the marketing strategies formulated by Travel Oregon consists of partnering with overseas natural attractions visited by tourists with greater disposable incomes. For example, Crater Lake is now a sister park of the Wuyishan National Scenic Area in China as well as of Triglav National Park in Slovenia. The idea is to inform visitors of those parks that Crater Lake has characteristics that will appeal to them.

 

Local tourism promotion agencies in southern Oregon are also applying marketing strategies for the purpose of attracting more visitors. This region has a nice range of activities to offer, from rafting to hiking and from fishing to winery tours. Increased tourism could bring millions of dollars in economic activities to counties such as Coos, Douglas, Josephine, and Klamath.

 

Although Travel Oregon is mostly engaged in promoting the state tourism industry to visitors from overseas, Travel Southern Oregon is currently focusing on presenting the region as a weekend option for visitors from Portland, a city that counts many residents with higher disposable incomes. Other places where this local agency plans to include in its marketing strategy include the Willamette Valley as well as San Francisco and Sacramento in California.

 

One of the marketing strategies that local tourism promotion agencies in Oregon are applying is to target Silicon Valley and other West Coast regions where there is a higher concentration of IT professionals whose salaries allow them to engage in tourism more frequently.