TEMECULA, CA — Visitor spending jumped by 26 percent in the Temecula Valley last year, thanks to wine country attractions and the Pechanga Resort Casino, according to a report released Thursday.


Visit Temecula Valley, a hospitality industry marketing organization that represents area businesses, issued its 2018 economic impact report during a luncheon in the Pechanga Resort's main ballroom. Findings showed that spending on recreation, lodging and other tourism-centered commerce totaled $1.1 billion, up from nearly $900 million in 2017.


According to Visit Temecula Valley, 3.1 million people poured into the area last year to spend money at bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, vintners, French Valley Airport and assorted other businesses.


"Consistently, from year-to-year, most of the local, direct Temecula visitor spending is generated by overnight ... rental guests," said Kimberly Adams, Visit Temecula Valley chief executive officer. "In 2018, these overnight guests spent a significant, milestone $705 million of the total $1.1 billion in visitor spending. Visitors traveling 50 miles or more, one-way from their homes on `day trips' to Temecula Valley spent a considerable, record- breaking $281 million."


Pechanga Development Corp. President Jared Munoa said the casino, Old Town Temecula and the Temecula Valley Wine Country were major draws in 2018.


"More visitors spent more money in the Temecula Valley than ever before because they liked the many positive attributes the valley offers for unique vacations, getaways and business trips," he said. "We are proud of this."


According to Pechanga Director of Sales Scott Wilson, visitors spent $409 million on arts, entertainment and recreation, with another $198 million going for dining services, $117 million for accommodations, $107 million for retail and $106 million for transportation.


By one estimate, the growth in spending supported the creation of 9,000 jobs, including self-employed positions.


"Also a record milestone for 2018, travel-generated state and local tax revenue neared $45 million," Grapeline Wine Tours owner John Kelliher said. "Over 90 percent of this state and local tax revenue was paid by visitors through lodging, sales and motor fuel taxes."