Study finds residents believe tourism positively impacts their community

 and is important to San Luis Obispo County's future


San Luis Obispo County, California, [July 12, 2023] – Today, Visit SLO CAL (VSC) released its Resident Sentiment Study, which assessed the attitudes and perceptions of residents towards local government, quality of life and tourism in their communities. The study found strong resident sentiment toward tourism with nearly three-fourths of residents agreeing that tourism is an important part of San Luis Obispo County's future and two-thirds (66.2%) stating that tourism makes their community a better place to live, which leads the state-level metric (46.7%) about the industry. 


Conducted by Destination Analysts, a leading research firm specializing in tourism studies, the Resident Sentiment Study measured the sentiment across seven cities and the unincorporated area of the county. It included three main areas of interest, which were contextualized against state-level metrics. Firstly, the study measured the current sentiment of residents towards tourism in their communities, including both qualitative assessment (perception of making SLO CAL a better place to live) and quantitative (contributing to SLO CAL’s economic vitality). Secondly, identified pain points of residents as well as strengths and opportunities that are impacted by local government. Thirdly, provided recommendations for future tourism marketing, destination development and community involvement.


"The tourism community in SLO CAL is entrenched in authentic experiences that intertwine visitors and residents,” said Chuck Davison, president & CEO of Visit SLO CAL. "Visit SLO CAL’s lens of ‘does our work maintain and/or improve resident quality of life?’ requires us to understand the sentiments of our local community, which enables us to foster a stronger connection between tourism and our residents, ensuring sustainable growth and a vibrant tourism economy. That in turn helps our residents better understand the value of tourism to SLO CAL."


Additional key findings further highlight SLO CAL residents view of the role of tourism in the community as well as factors that contribute to residents’ quality of life, including:

  • 83.7% of SLO CAL respondents believe tourism is important to the economic vitality of the community, compared to 59.3% of California residents.
    • There is a strong awareness of the overall economic value that the tourism industry brings to SLO CAL at the county-level. However, there is an opportunity to increase awareness of the benefits to residents themselves from tourism activity in their communities.
    • Residents have largely positive personal interactions with tourists, but do not necessarily feel empowered to impact the way that tourism in their community is managed, which provides opportunity for additional engagement related to tourism planning in the destination.
  • 65.6% of SLO CAL respondents are satisfied with the direction the community (non-tourism related) is headed, compared to 54.8% of California residents.
  • 52.2% of SLO CAL respondents have expressed a one-year change in personal quality of life as much better or somewhat better.
  • 81.1% of SLO CAL respondents agree or somewhat agree that they are proud to live in their local community.
    • Residents truly love living in SLO CAL, but rising costs of living in their communities is a pressing concern for many.


VSC is committed to fostering continuous improvement and community engagement. The study’s valuable insights will inform not just VSC’s future tourism marketing strategies and destination growth, but also is made available to local government leaders and municipalities, which also have a role in the engagement, development and well-being of the communities that they serve.


The full study can be found HERE. For more information about Visit SLO CAL, go to





Visit SLO CAL is the countywide non-profit destination marketing and management organization (DMMO) for San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL). Visit SLO CAL is responsible for promoting SLO CAL as an attractive travel destination and enhancing the public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, Visit SLO CAL strengthens the economic position and provides opportunities for all people in the community. Built on research with a strategy of continuous improvement, Visit SLO CAL aims to establish SLO CAL as a favorite West Coast destination known for its signature slower pace of life and unique mix of incredible, immersive guest experiences. For more information, go to