Orange County a Hotbed for Tourists

By Daniel Axelrod
Times Herald-Record
September 19, 2019

Samantha Coppolino
Samantha Coppolino, a producer with New York City radio station Z100 – and a social media influencer – hikes at Bear Mountain State Park in April. “I was never ready to leave a place,” Coppolino said of her two-day trip to the area, paid for and arranged by the Orange County Tourism Department. “It was always time for us to leave.” (Photo provided by Samantha Coppolino)

Samantha Coppolino is used to others’ fear of missing out. The 29-year-old producer from the Z100 radio station’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Show notices it immediately from her 80,400 Instagram followers’ reactions to her travel posts.

The comments below a picture of Coppolino, who goes by Sam Rosalie online, were typical after she strolled near the Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo in a sharp red jumpsuit last June.

“This looks amazing!!” one follower gushed. “Omg (Oh my god), I’ve always wanted to see Japan!!!!! Excuse me while I live vicariously through you,” another confessed.

But Coppolino smirked at similar comments on pictures of her spring trip to Orange County tourism hotspots like Angry Orchard and Bear Mountain State Park.

Orange County “was the first spot where I could respond and say, ‘This is easy for you to go to and do if you have a day and a half,’” said Coppolino, a seven-year veteran of Z100, a contemporary hit radio station in New York City.

“I was never ready to leave a place,” Coppolino said of her two-day trip, paid for and arranged by the Orange County Tourism Department. “It was always time for us to leave.”

The number of people visiting Orange County and their total spending rose sharply in 2018, according to new data. Among the reasons why, Orange County leaders say, are a growing tourism budget and ever more creative marketing, including hiring so-called social media influencers such as Coppolino.

Orange County’s visitor spending, adjusted to exclude tourist shoppers at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, grew 17 percent to $577 million in 2018 from $492 million in 2017, according to Oxford Economics, a research firm.

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