Critics Question Governor’s Tourism Triumph as California Grapples with Immigration Issues

California Governor Gavin Newsom drew attention with a promotional video highlighting what he described as “record-breaking tourism numbers” in the state, featuring him seemingly suspended high above the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the video, Newsom exclaimed, “So, I’m up here on the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. A testament to America’s greatness… California’s greatness and we couldn’t be more proud.” He emphasized over $150 billion spent on tourism, unprecedented in state history, and encouraged people to visit California to experience its magnificence.

Critics responded on social media, with one person jokingly asking if the governor was also Spider-Man. Others raised concerns about immigration issues and California’s ongoing challenges with crime, homelessness, and high costs.

Governor Newsom’s office released data indicating that California maintained the largest share of tourism in the nation, with travel spending reaching a record high of $150.4 billion in 2023, surpassing the pre-pandemic figure of $144.9 billion in 2019.

However, California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones challenged these numbers, suggesting that when adjusted for inflation, tourism spending would need to reach $173 billion to exceed the 2019 level. Jones criticized Newsom for focusing on statistics rather than addressing California’s pressing issues like homelessness and affordability.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher echoed this sentiment, dismissing the tourism figures as “phony” and highlighting California’s challenges with crime and homelessness.

Visit California CEO Caroline Beteta celebrated the tourism industry’s resilience, emphasizing its role in driving economic recovery and job creation in the state.

Despite the positive tourism data, concerns remain about the Bay Area’s slightly reduced tourism spending in 2023 compared to 2019.