Experts predict strong summer tourism

Local hospitality industry leaders discuss trends and expectations

POSTED: 02:30 AM PDT Apr 18, 2013    UPDATED: 09:58 PM PDT Apr 17, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The local tourism industry is enjoying a profitable spring season. It appears that trend will continue.

"The prediction for summer is a strong summer season," said Kathy Janega-Dykes.

The Greater Santa Barbara Lodging and Restaurant Association hosted a luncheon at the newly renovated El Encanto Hotel Wednesday to talk about the future of the industry.

"It's very important for us to all get together, and talk and celebrate some of the successes we've had," explained Warren Butler, the president of the association.

One of those successes is this year's spring season.

"The town was busy. The hotels were busy.  We saw a lot of shopping, and sight seeing," said Janega-Dykes.

She credits an earlier start to spring break, the warm dry weather, and the improving economy.

"People feel more confident about the economy, so they're starting to travel, and they may have postponed travel plans in the past so now they want to get out," She said.

Experts only expect the trend to continue.

"We do anticipate a lot of European travelers as usual and Australians coming through June, July, August into September," said Laura McIver, the General Manager for El Encanto Hotel.

They also anticipate the stay-cation crowd, and a growing number of visitors from just down the road.

"We are fortunate Southern California and especially Los Angeles are close by."

Tourism officials in San Luis Obispo County said they are seeing similar trends.