This story originally appeared on Benzinga
Given the post-pandemic economic crisis, businesses, governments and regulators see cannabis tourism as a driver of economic development.
But what is the potential of cannabis tourism? $17 billion, according to a report featured in Forbes by journalists Will Yakowicz and Susan Rowan Kelleher. Out of $25 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2021, Forbes estimates that as much as $4.5 billion was driven by tourists, who bring an additional $12.6 billion into retail and taxes.
See how the money grows
For every dollar spent at a cannabis retailer, there’s a multiplier effect, with an additional $2.80 injected into the local economy, Beau Whitney, founder and chief economist at Whitney Economics told Forbes.
In California, for example, cannabis growers incorporated cannabis-related tourist attractions into their farms. Some of the most popular cannabis tourism attractions in Mendocino County are cannabis tours, where a staff of cannabis connoisseurs educates visitors about the plant’s active ingredients and benefits, its terroir and geology as well as local farming traditions.
Examples of the tours available in Mendocino are Emerald Farm Tours and the Mendocino Experience. These guided tours allow you to observe the work of cultivation technicians and scientists who process cannabis.
“They’re tourists and they’re shopping—they are here to spend money in the mecca of weed,” said Victor Pinho, co-founder of Emerald Farm Tours, who explained that customers often spend $300 to $400 at the dispensary during their visits.
Market in bloom as millennials gain disposable income
In recent years, the offer of health products and services linked to cannabis within the wellness segment has skyrocketed, including therapies and treatments based on natural products and meditation, among other holistic disciplines.
According to the World Wellness Institute, wellness tourists spend around 50% more than the average international tourist; and 178% more than the typical domestic tourist. In 2022, the market is projected to reach around $919 billion. This represents 18% of the world tourism market.
An MMGY study conducted in 2020 stated that 18% of American travelers were interested in cannabis experiences while traveling. Narrowed to include adults with an annual income of $50,000, the percentage increased to 62%, reported High Times.
Brian Applegarth, founder of Cannabis Travel Association International, anticipates that aging millennials will foster cannabis tourism.
“By 2025, 50% of travelers in the U.S. are going to be millennials,” Applegarth said. “And their relationship to cannabis consumption is extremely normalized compared to the stigmatized industry leaders of today.”