California Tourism & Hospitality Get a Lift

California has been going through growing pains as the nascent legal cannabis industry continues to evolve. You would know that there actually exists a robust industry of innovative products and emerging brands in spite of the illegal market. We took a look at what transpired the last year.





2019 Cannabis Tourism Year in Review.

Last year marked the 2nd year of legal 21+ recreational-use of cannabis in California. Trends among people in the state defined the year, among users and experimenters, as a year of learning. Change will be a constant as the new decade progresses.

#1 CBD Spa Treatments

Across the state thousands of spas implemented a CBD-infused massage option, hopping on the bandwagon of the CBD pop culture craze.

#2 Cannabis Tours

Every day, from San Diego to Humboldt, cannabis tour operators are sharing the fascinating world of California cannabis with visitors. People are being educated on the plant, “from seed to sale” and becoming informed about what cultivators, trimmers, biochemists, and processors are doing to bring quality product to market. Tours include visits to cannabis grow farms, dispensaries, consumption lounges and more.

#3 Creative Pop-ups

Puff and paint anyone? Stand-up comedy at a cannabis lounge? Infused-art exhibits? Infused dinners? Cannabis and creative endeavors go hand in hand. The innovation is nothing short of exciting. Leaders in experiential events are mixing multi-media elements with cannabis to enhance the experience at these events for people.

#4 Hotels

Trend-setting California hotels and lodging establishments implemented cannabis-related tourism strategies to support an informative, safe, and normalized customer journey. They have developed parameters for people to imbibe responsibly while being respectful of their guests who may not consume weed. Staff education, front-line staff communication plans, strategic cannabis partners, and curated events continue to evolve in the space.

#5 B2B Education

Management at destinations, hotels, attractions, and others we educated on the emerging ‘green’ opportunity. Last year continued the drive for consumer education related to cannabis and in particular, education for hospitality-based businesses throughout the state. As the market continues to evolve and shift, many in tourism are looking for ways to include cannabis in developing 2020 action plans.

What’s in store for 2020?

This year will mark California’s third year of legal cannabis consumption. We believe that five key cannabis trends that will shape the year ahead in tourism and beyond.


First-of-its-kind cannabis tourism and retail consumer data reports will be compiled and published. Researchers are reading statistics captured in the past year to develop a deeper understanding of consumer behavior including consumption by occasion, day of week and time of day. These will inform structured cannabis-related tourism strategies for destinations and related businesses.


Cannabis appellations used to define and legally protect where the cannabis strains we all enjoy come from. It also sets parameters for certain strains to be defined as only from a particular region, much the same as grapes for wines.  The California Department of Food & Agriculture will announce the standards by which a licensed cannabis cultivator may designate county of origin for the strains of cannabis they are caring for.


Mainstream tourism businesses and visitors will become increasingly aware of cannabis and THC-infused beverages available in the market. More entrants to the beverage category are being developed throughout the state. People will be able to choose from a spectrum of products and paired with desired experiences and effects much like wine, spirits and even coffees.


As wine pairs with food, cannabis pairs with activities and experiences. California is home to many classically trained and awarded chefs who are innovating in pairing and cooking with a variety of strains depending on what experience their customers want. Visitors who come to the state will begin to understand that you choose your cannabis based on knowledge of strains, terpene profiles, and what they wish to experience from their consumption.


Mainstream events have been known to have “unofficial” cannabis experiences curated by brand ambassadors. Event producers will increasingly incorporate cannabis-related experiences with their concerts, gaming events, comedy fests and even entertainment awards events. Licensed cannabis events will likely attract new and curious cannabis consumers, including visitors to our state seeking a memorable California experience.

Follow the California Cannabis Tourism Association here. More info can  be found here.

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