More tourists visited Lodi in 2014, a trend city officials hope will continue this year

A steadily increasing number of tourists sipped wine at Lodi tasting rooms and stayed nights in Lodi hotels in 2014.

There have been a few tourists in town this week as well, coming in through the doors of the Downtown Lodi Visitor Center, according to Nancy Beckman, president and CEO of Visit Lodi!

“As the economy picks up, more people are traveling. We anticipate seeing that trend for this year,” Beckman said.

By the end of June 2014, Transient Occupancy Tax revenue for the first six months had increased 11.74 percent from the same period in 2013, Beckman said. Hotels charge the tax to visitors, meaning more people stayed in Lodi hotels last year.

“The increasing TOT (revenue) is a good thing. It’s a source of revenue for the city and a good indication that things are going well for businesses in the city,” Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer said.

And the visitors aren’t just staying in Lodi hotels; many are also visiting local restaurants and other businesses, Schwabauer said.

Visit Lodi! identified other indicators of an increase in tourism in a newsletter this month, including a greater social media audience. By September 2014, the Lodi Visitor Center had also seen a 33 percent increase in visitors compared with the same period last year.

Last year, Visit Lodi! shifted more of their advertising dollars into digital marketing, Beckman said. This has allowed them to reach more potential consumers, who nowadays often plan their vacations online, she said.

Wineries, too, have seen an increase of traffic at the tasting rooms, according to Stuart Spencer, program manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission.

He attributes the TOT numbers to more than just tourism, noting that salespeople and those who work in the wine industry have been visiting Lodi as well.

Where are the visitors coming from?

“Our largest overnight market is the greater Bay Area, and our second largest is the greater Los Angeles area. People from all over the state and out-of-state come to visit Lodi, as well as international visitors on occasion,” Beckman said.

Beckman, Schwabauer and Spencer have all expressed confidence that tourism in Lodi will continue to increase this year, especially with big tourist-drawing events coming up, such as the Amgen Tour of California in May.

Wine and Chocolate Weekend draws nearly 6,000 people to Lodi from 15 to 20 different states each February, Spencer said, while ZinFest draws 4,000 to 5,000 in May.

“We’re really optimistic for continued growth and visitation,” Spencer said. “The types of people interested in visiting Lodi are avid wine drinkers and often visit restaurants. They’re more likely to go back and tell their friends. It’s critical in growing our reputation to have people come experience Lodi wines firsthand.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodinews.com. Read the original article.