Santa Paula Tourism Plan 2025

By Sheryl Hamlin

A graduate class (CSUN RTM 580 Tourism Policy & Planning Spring 2017) at California State University Northridge (CSUN) chose Santa Paula as the case study for their class project.

Starting in January 2017, the team analyzed the area’s strengths and weaknesses, created and analyzed a survey, and recommended a course of action for Santa Paula with the stated goal of increasing tourism as an economic driver.

To this extent, the students proposed a marketing plan with measurable, achievable goals. They realized that maintaining the current charm and authenticity is essential in generating recidivate tourism. The survey gleaned valuable information from 90 respondents, 48 of whom had never visited Santa Paula, 30 of whom had visited once, with 12 as local residents.

Conclusion: Awareness of Santa Paula as a tourist destination is low.

The survey results show that as income increases, the perception of Santa Paula as a recommendable tourism destination also increases. As to the life cycle of the respondents, “The results show that the life cycles: young, single; young, married, youngest child 6 or under; and older, married, no children under 18, prefer to visit Santa Paula for just one day rather than spend the night”.

Most of the respondents viewed Santa Paula as a day trip, although the students did include a survey of hotel rooms in the study.

SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threats) Analysis

Based on their research, the team created the SWOT chart, as shown below. This simple graph encapsulates much of the material for follow-on marketing and development projects.

SWOT Analysis, Source: CSUN Students


Partnering played a key role in the recommendations. They stated that worldwide wholesale booking and tour agencies would bring in more people. They also suggested partnering with SMERF (social, military, education, religious, and fraternal) organizations “as a convenient location to host annual leadership retreats, formal banquets, events and other enrichment experiences”.

They suggested heavy use of social media creating a hashtag #ILoveSantaPaula to create awareness, suggesting that residents begin to use a common tag when engaged in social media. Hashtags are supported on Facebook, Twitter, Snapshop, and Instagram, just to name a few. Here is a simple article about their use.

Word Cloud Results

The students created open ended questions, the results of which were then parsed through a frequency analyzer to generate the Word Cloud. “The word cloud represents how often each particular word was mentioned when respondents were asked what they like most about Santa Paula. The larger the word, the more often it was mentioned.”

Word Cloud, Source: CSUN Students


The budgets ranged from $33,000, $9,500, $2,500. The students recommended the high end budget.

Budget, Source: CSUN Students

Evaluation and Monitoring

One of the key recommendations was the creation of a commission to monitor the effects of tourism economically, which would include the use of CSUN interns. The monitoring would include surveys as well as quantifiable results from businesses about increases in performance indicators. Formal monitoring would happen in odd year increments.


The audience was clearly engaged in the discussion. Council Member Hernandez asked if there were enough hotel rooms, to which the student said that most of the tourists surveyed were daytrippers, so the absence or presence of a room was a moot point.

There was a significant discussion on social awareness, which of course was strengthened by the age group of the researchers.

Surveying techniques, specifically the ones handed out at restaurant and hotels was discussed. These are still used and worthwhile, according to the students.

There was a discussion about marketing the region versus just Santa Paula. They felt that it was better to coordinate with a tour agency for such an effort and reminded that most people today just want a day trip, so this is the low hanging fruit.

Assistant Planning Director James Mason asked an astute question: what is the “narrow focus” or the top three areas of concentration. The students said 1) older, no children with discretionary income to spend, 2) people with young families because of the events and 3) young couples on road trips. Another variant would be “outdoor adventurists” who like hiking and climbing.

They cited the Santa Paula airport and suggested aviation special interest groups as well as walking groups because there are so many great walks in and around the city.

Follow On

The entire report can be downloaded here. There is contact information in the report.

Santa Paula is lucky to have been chosen by this articulate, international group of students. The event was hosted by the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce and held in the historic Santa Paula Depot.

For more information about the author visit Sheryl Hamlin dot com.

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