6.6 Greater Palm Springs Visitors Stayed Overnight

RANCHO MIRAGE — In 2022, as the country was emerging from a global pandemic, visitors to Greater Palm Springs spent $7.1 billion, representing a 26% increase over 2021, according to the recently released Economic Impact of Tourism report.

This leads to an overall $8.7 billion total economic impact. The report also shows Tourism now makes up 1 out of 4 jobs in the Coachella Valley.

Greater Palm Springs welcomed 14.1 million visitors in 2022, including 7.5-million-day visitors and 6.6 overnight visitors.

It’s a stunning economic portrait, especially after weathering a pandemic that shuttered some of the Coachella Valley’s biggest tourism magnets, including the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The increase was no accident. It was hard work — and a commitment.

During the pandemic, Visit Greater Palm Springs stayed engaged with both group clients, leisure travelers, and airlines, Todd Burke, vice president of communications, told Uken Report.  The organization also maintained the majority of its staff, while many CVB’s eliminated up to 80% of their staff.

Greater Palm Springs Visitors Spent Billions

Todd Burke

“Our consistency with sales, marketing and staff enabled the region to grow visitation and visitor spending and rebound much more effectively,” Burke said. “Having the Tourism Business Improvement District in place was a critical component of the recovery.  In 2015, VGPS dedicated staff and resources to air service development and focused on attracting Southwest Airlines.”

During the pandemic, Southwest Airlines expanded into Palm Springs, adding annual non-stop service to Las Vegas, Oakland, Denver, San Jose, Phoenix and Sacramento, Burke said.  Delta returned its seasonal non-stop service to Atlanta, a key up for the east coast.

“As a result, visitor spending expanded 26% in 2022, surpassing 2019 levels by nearly 20%,” Burke said. “Of the $7.1 billion spent in Greater Palm Springs in 2022, lodging, including hotels, short-term rentals, and the value of second homes, accounted for 31% of total visitor spending. Food and beverage contributed $1.8 billion in sales—about 25% of total visitor spending. Visitors spent 20% of their total budget on retail purchases, 13% on recreation, and 11% on transportation, including both transportation within the destination as well as air transportation.”

The primary funding for VGPS is a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). The TBID is a 3% assessment on short-term stays in hotels with 50 rooms or more and a 1% assessment on short-term stays in vacation rental properties within certain boundaries of the Coachella Valley.

As part of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agreement, each of the cities within the Coachella Valley provide money to VGPS based on a formula applied to local hotel lodging revenues. One of the Coachella Valley cities, Coachella, currently has no hotel lodging, therefore, VGPS receives funding from eight of the nine cities.

VGPS also receives private funding. This includes partnerships, advertising cooperatives, joint share participation with stakeholders, and interest income.

The VGPS current year approved budget (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) is as follows:

Greater Palm Springs Visitors Spent Billions

GPSV Budget

The funding arrangement established in the JPA agreement remains in place until amended. It is not subject to annual renewal provisions. The TBID renewal is after 10 years. The next renewal will be June 30, 2031.


Greater Palm Springs Visitors Spent Billions

Scott White

VGPS is led by CEO Scott White at $422,620 annually.  His performance and compensation are reviewed annually by the Chair, (currently Rolf Hoehn, Director of Business Development & Partnerships at Desert Champions. He was elected to be Chair of the Board of Directors in 2022) and the Vice Chair (currently Peggy Trott, GM of the Kimpton Rowan Hotel. She was elected to be Vice Chair in 2022.)

White has been CEO since December 2010.


Image Sources

  • Todd Burke: Visit Greater Palm Springs
  • Woman in pool: Greater Palm Springs