On Tuesday, a new projection by Tourism Economics was released showing that California is currently on track to lose $72.1 billion in travel related spending this year.
In addition, by the end of this month, 613,000 travel and tourism related jobs will have been lost. This amounts to over half of the current number of travel and tourism related jobs out there pre-coronavirus state lockdown.
Travel and tourism spending in California had been growing in California for ten years before the coronavirus lockdown, with the state projected to have a 3.4% growth in travel related spending again this year. Travel-generated tax alone pumped $12.2 billion into local and state governments last year. Travelers also spent approximately $144.9 billion in total.
Some areas have been hit harder than others. Tourist hotspots like Los Angeles County, where 1 in every 8.4 workers is in the leisure and hospitality industry, has been incredibly affected by the shutdown. San Francisco and towns surroundings tourist attractions and National Parks have also seen sharp declines. Despite the devastating decline, many tourist-reliant industries and business owners remain optimistic at the industry bouncing back.
“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated our tourism economy, but we know tourism is a resilient industry,” noted President and CEO of theLos Angeles Tourism and Convention Board Ernest Wooden Jr. “It’s critical Los Angeles is in a pole position to restore tourism and these economic benefits to our residents when the time is right.”
Hotel owner Charles Blakely also shared the sentiment. “I’ve seen it come back quickly before,” said Blakely. “After the Great Recession, after months, and in some of my properties, years of lower occupancy, things greatly improved again. My motels became impromptu apartments for many people getting back on their feet, and my larger hotels started getting more Disneyland guests again. Even if the park doesn’t open right away we’ll still have people coming into town. Watch, the industry will come back.”
Even among smaller businesses that cater to tourists there is still a sense of optimism.
“The store has been closed for several weeks now, but my boss keeps warning me of having extended hours when we reopen,” explained Nick Pilkey, who works in a gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. “There’s going to be a flood of people wanting to get out afterwards, and that means a lot of foot traffic along the walk of fame again. It’s just a matter of re-opening now.”
These people will also be critical for recovery of the tourism industry in the state.
“When that time arrives, we’ll be calling on Californians to become the main drivers of recovery by traveling in the state, shopping locally and visiting local restaurants, wineries and attractions,” said president and CEO of Visit California Caroline Beteta in a statement.
California is to begin slowly reopening select businesses and end some restrictions this week, with Los Angeles stay-at-home orders currently set to expire as soon as May 15th.