California tourism on the rise

Travelers to the Golden State collectively spent more than $122 billion in 2015, proving the travel and tourism industry is continuing to propel California’s economy forward.

An annual economic impact report released by Visit California, a nonprofit statewide organization that promotes California on behalf of the state’s tourism industry, shows that direct visitor spending increased 3.4 percent from 2014, as tourism’s economic engine continues to benefit all Californians by generating more than 1 million jobs and significant tax revenue in all counties across the state.

“The power of tourism to improve quality of life in California is evident from this report,” said Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta. “The ripple effect from a sixth consecutive record year of tourism is driving economic development and community benefits across the state.”

Tourism spending spurred $9.9 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2015, empowering local governments to invest in infrastructure improvements and innovative projects that provide cultural and civic amenities for residents and visitors alike. An analysis of data compiled by Dodge Market Research report found that from 2006 to 2015 new building and renovation projects in California related to tourism reached $20 billion, with an average of $2 billion in infrastructure investments per year. This includes airport modernizations, new dining, entertainment and retail districts and other cultural and civic amenities that benefit visitors and residents alike.

Visit California’s report includes the economic benefits of leading tourism sectors such as hotels, rental cars and retail as well as the statewide and county-by-county benefits. Out of California’s 58 counties, 51 saw an increase in direct travel spending compared to 2014, including:

Fresno: $1.41 billion in traveler spending, up from $1.38 billion (1.8 percent increase)
Los Angeles: $25.88 billion in traveler spending, up from $25.23 billion (2.6 percent increase)
Monterey: $2.71 billion in traveler spending, up from $2.59 billion (4.5 percent increase)
Sacramento: $3.63 billion in traveler spending, up from $3.45 billion (5.3 percent increase)
San Diego: $15.4 billion in traveler spending, up from $14.8 billion (4 percent increase)
San Francisco: $14.29 billion in traveler spending, up from $13.91 billion (2.9 percent increase)
Santa Barbara: $2.06 billion in traveler spending, up from $2.01 billion (2.7 percent increase)
Shasta County: $421.4 million in traveler spending, up from $416 million (1.3 percent increase)

“While California’s natural allure is undeniable, a statewide marketing campaign is necessary to ensure the Golden State remains a top visitor destination globally and that the benefits we have seen over the past several years continue to grow,” Beteta said.

Tourism’s economic benefits are possible because of Visit California’s successful global marketing campaigns that reach target domestic and international visitors.

The release of the new economic impact report is part of Visit California’s celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week. Throughout this week, destinations across the state will join communities across the nation to hold events that communicate and celebrate the importance of sustaining the travel industry.

“National Travel and Tourism Week is an important reminder of how travel and tourism touches everyone, and the importance of continuing to highlight our state as a premier travel destination,” Beteta said. “The new report reinforces the importance of reaching potential visitors with an invitation to Dream Big in California.”

This post is sponsored by Visit California, however the opinions are of the author.

An extreme heavy haulage challenge

Have you ever wondered how much a truck can pull? They look huge when you drive past them on the road, and the tires seem to dwarf your car. In this gripping video, Volvo Trucks see if they can push the limits of one their vehicles, and answer that question with an attempt to perform one of the heaviest, and craziest truck pulls in their history.

Setting out to break even more heavyweight records with this challenge is Magnus Samuelsson, the former holder of the world’s strongest man title. Magnus is used to pushing things to the limits, and this truck challenge is no exception. “Few things can match the sense of challenging and winning over one’s physical limitations. I’ve faced many tough challenges over the years but this pull is my heaviest ever,” he said.

Volvo Trucks 750 tonne challenge
“The world’s strongest man, drives the world’s strongest truck”

However this time, Magnus has the help of a Volvo FH16 truck featuring the brand new I-Shift with crawler gears that allows heavy-holder job operators to pull up to 425 tonnes of vehicle weight. As ever, Volvo Trucks are pushing the boundaries of what their trucks can do, and their challenge this time is to pull 750 tonnes.

During the stunt, and keeping a close eye on this incredible feat of engineering and power is experienced trucking journalist Brian Weatherley. “That Volvo Trucks has developed an automated gearbox that can haul 325 tonnes gross combination weight is impressive. But tackling more than 700 tonnes GCW with a single regular production truck is really quite amazing. In my 30 years as a trucking journalist I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

The challenge faced by the Volvo Trucks team started early, as they filled 40 containers with Volvo spare parts in the Port of Gothenburg, which was no small job. The containers then sat on 20 trailers to form a 300-metre long road train. The mission was to drive a Volvo FH16 from standstill, while hauling 750 tonnes, and cover a distance of 100 metres.

Volvo trucks 750 tonnes challenge
The Volvo FH16 truck facing the elements

There were many things that could cause problems during the pull, and literally rip apart some of the truck, even before they had to deal with the traction of the tires on the road. You’ll never guess what turned out to be their main concern during the stunt, as it even started to snow!

So, do you think Brian, Magnus and the incredibly powerful Volvo Truck made history by completing this challenge? You can watch the Volvo Trucks vs 750 Tonnes: An extreme heavy haulage challenge in the player below to find out…

This post is sponsored by Volvo Trucks, however the opinions are of the author.

Eden Hazard’s perfect kick

Lotus Bakeries challenges Eden Hazard to demonstrate the perfect kick, by hitting a target surrounded by thousands of coffee cups. The goal is to hit the target, after which a Lotus Biscoff will fall onto a saucer next to a fresh cup of coffee.

The talented Belgian football player currently plays for Chelsea, and the Belgium national team as an attacking midfielder and a winger, so he has no problem performing under similar pressures with hundreds of thousands of fans waiting for him to kick the ball accurately, every single time.

Eden Hazard The Perfect Kick Looking

Hazard is well known for his technical ability and accuracy with the ball, so giving him the daunting task of hitting the smallest target in front of a whole camera crew, and an intense wall of 10,000 cups just waiting to be smashed is a tense, but expected and exciting outcome. Can he do it, or will he smash all the cups? Watch the video in the player below to find out:

What did you think? Was it what you expected? And even more so, do you think you could do better? Why not show your perfect kick, and give yourself the incredible opportunity for you and a friend to meet Eden Hazard in London! Get creative, and think of any scenario where you can hit the target and display your perfect kick. Whether it be cracking the crossbar from the halfway line, or floating the ball into a basketball hoop with your exceptional left foot – it’s all to play for and we can’t wait to see what you can do!

Twice per month, Eden shares his favourite tricks you submit on his Facebook and Twitter page too, so your perfect kick will be shown around the world, to hundreds of thousands of people. To upload your video, simply go to the official website and click on the ‘Upload’ tab. From there you will be given the relevant instructions to enter.

Sponsored Video: Eden Hazard demonstrates the perfect kick

If you win the Perfect Kick competition, you and your mate will be sent to London to meet Eden Hazard in the flesh, and he’ll sign your favourite football shirt. You’ll also get to stay in a central London hotel and capture this once-in-a-lifetime event and share it with all your friends if you take a camera with you.

The event will be in August 2016, so make sure you’re available if you do win as you wouldn’t want to miss out! When talking about the competition and the perfect kick, Eden said: “Now I want to see your perfect kick. It doesn’t even have to be on a football field … Just make it fun, and then maybe I’ll see you in London…”

Sponsored Video: Eden Hazard demonstrates the perfect kick

Make sure you read the rules before entering this amazing competition, and please take care when performing your perfect kick!

Lotus Bakeries focuses on authentic specialities from the biscuit and cake world and specialise in the world famous Lotus Biscoff. They create caramelized biscuits, gingerbread, cake specialties, waffles and pepparkakor biscuits that’ll tease your tastebuds.

For more information on Lotus Bakeries, and the range of lotus biscuits available, please go their official website here.

This post is sponsored by Lotus Bakeries, however the opinions are of the author.