Guarded Outlook for California Tourism’s Revival After COVID ‘Zombie Apocalypse’
When COVID-19 closed its business and traveled all over the United States, communities like Anaheim, which relied heavily on entertainment and tourism, were hit hardest. Hotel accommodation taxes, which account for more than half of the city’s budget, plummeted 90% between 2019 and 2020.
Jay Burress, President and CEO of Visit Anaheim, the city’s non-profit tourism agency, said: “It was devastating to our industry and our city.”
With California Resumed on Tuesday, almost full operation, Its travel and tourism industry wants a significant recovery. But experts are softening expectations. Domestic travel will not fully recover until 2023, with the number of foreign tourists, especially from China and Mexico, remaining less than half of pre-pandemic levels. And there will be no full resumption until the big convention comes back — there is no certainty of a big move to remotework.
“It’s very important to rebound as soon as possible,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, a non-profit organization that facilitates travel to the state. “California’s tourism industry offers more than a million jobs and supports thousands of companies.”
Status Generated $ 144.9 billion in travel expenses In 2019, according to a survey by Dean Runyan Associates of the Travel and Tourism Research Group. But when the pandemic broke out, travel and residence restrictions destroyed the profits California had cultivated after the Great Recession.
According to Dean Runyan, tourism fell 36% nationwide in 2020, while California’s tourism revenue fell 55%. More than half of California’s 1.2 million tourist workers lost their jobs in the first month of the blockade, according to a report released in May 2020. Laws that require companies to prioritize the reemployment of unemployed people, And many workers want to resume work.
Low Cases, High Vaccinations Help Resume Tourism in California
Prior to the pandemic, the city of Anaheim had so many visitors, Valles said he was afraid they might be quoted due to overcrowding. Instead, the Director of Tourism said it felt like a “zombie apocalypse” last year.
“Anaheim and Orange County had record numbers for six years,” Burress said. “Usually hotels operated with a 90% occupancy, and that was a single digit.”
The industry has already begun to see some recovery.In April of this year, California’s leisure and hospitality sector Increase employment of 400,000 people Every year. On the eve of the reopening, Governor Gavin Newsom appeared on Monday at San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building. This attracts visitors with artisan cuisine and restaurants. He said California’s economy this year is ahead of other states, including Texas and Florida, due to public health precautions and vaccination campaigns. It is expected that the upward trend will continue.
“With one of the highest and lowest case rates in the United States, California is ready for a strong resurgence,” Beteta said. “Leisure travelers take the lead. We expect outdoor activities and road trips to become very popular.”
However, experts admit that despite speculation of the Roaring Twenties Second Coming, a return to normal does not occur immediately. Many restrictions have been lifted in California, but that’s not the only obstacle to vacationers.
California trip is not recovering
“The reduction in visitor spending is not entirely due to business closures and restrictions,” Beteta said. “Consumers have to be willing to travel, and for most of 2020, more than half were unwilling to venture at all.”
Domestic travel to California is expected to recover to 75% of 2019 levels this year. However, according to the latest tourism economics, it is not expected to fully recover by 2023. report Preparation for Visit California released in April this year.
Traveling abroad remains another question mark as other countries continue to work on the virus and travel restrictions continue. According to Tourism Economics, inbound travel to California is expected to decline by 79% in 2020 to reach 41% of 2019 levels this year. According to Visit California, travelers from Asia and Mexico make up two of the state’s largest spending groups.Only tourists from China spent $ 4 billion In California in 2019.
San Francisco can be most likely to feel the loss of international travelers. According to data from the San Francisco Travel Association, foreign tourists account for 61% of total overnight spending in the entire city, making it the largest share of any major city in the United States.
San Francisco is also the state’s largest convention city, with hotels alone typically generating $ 8.3 billion annually in overnight spending. But experts predict that the convention will be one of the last tourism industries to rebound this year due to the fact that California continues to limit indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people until October 1.
Tournament spending has a greater economic impact
The money generated from the competition is considered essential to the city.
“It’s essential to the health of the city. It’s essential to our hotel community, our restaurant community,” said Nicole Rogers, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer of the San Francisco Travel Agents. “Tourism is important to us, but it would never work without it, but conventions are on average more expensive because companies pay and participants pay.”
The conference, held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, can accommodate more than 10,000 participants at a time. However, the economic impact has a spillover effect. For example, at the annual Dreamforce conference held by San Francisco tech giant Salesforce, more than 30,000 hotel rooms are booked per night. The city typically hosts 50 to 60 major competitions annually. So far, only two have been identified this fall.
The future of convention spending in San Francisco depends on many things, including customer retention. Some have opted to host the tournament this year in less restrictive states, such as Texas and Florida. Other factors are related to how the company chooses to operate in the future, and whether to continue to hold face-to-face meetings, especially when employees become accustomed to remote work.
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