Santa Monica served up a tasty treat in Sydney last night as trade members enjoyed a cooking class with Official Ambassadors and My Kitchen Rules contestants, Luke Hines and Scott Gooding.
Hosted at the Sydney Seafood School at the Sydney Fish Markets, Hines and Gooding shared their gourmet adventures around Santa Monica and some of the healthy eateries that the Los Angeles beachside city is famed for.
Santa Monica executive vice president Richard Peterson spoke to Travel Today about how Australians are flocking to the city, retaining their number one spot as the biggest overseas market.
“Australians are either spending a week in Santa Monica, or visiting on a layover stay and returning for a longer stay,” Peterson said.
Noting the consistent weather and beachside living as a main draw card for the Australian market, Peterson added the reason Hines and Gooding were such a great fit as Ambassadors was Santa Monica’s reputation for a clean healthy lifestyle, wellness and fresh food.
The destination has an appeal to visitors to “experience not only the environment but be connected to the community in an authentic, real Californian experience.” It also has a strong family appeal, with attractions, activities and hotels all focused on family friendly.
Opening a new experience and ease of access to Santa Monica will be the Expo Train, launching early 2016. This will remove the commute that can often be tedious due to traffic, and make travelling to the beachside city efficient and stress-free.
The coming 2 years will also see an increase in available rooms, with new build hotels increasing the some 37 current properties. This is something Peterson said would further boost the strong occupancy rates, currently at 90% over the summer and up to 80% in the shoulder season.
The near future will see Santa Monica Tourism launch a brand refresh with new website, including a travel trade portal. This will act as a valuable resource for travel agents and deliver a whole new level of marketing assets.
“We are really committed to the Australian market, and will continue to work with the trade to help build on available resources,” Peterson concluded.
(L-R) Alex Wollacott (DriveAway Holidays) Richard Peterson (Executive Vice President SMCVB) and Madeline Callan (Qantas).