California urges people to vacation in state, boost tourism

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California tourism executives urge residents to spend their turned back travel dollars to explore their home state, as coronavirus cases remain low and industry recedes from decline 55% of its income.

The state of nearly 40 million people has been among the most conservative in the United States with strict restrictions in place to stem the pandemic. Today, California has the lowest infection rate in the country and on Tuesday Los Angeles and San Francisco received state permission to reopen bars, restaurants, museums and businesses more widely.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who faces a recall election this year in part due to his handling of the pandemic, announced the state was on track to fully reopen its economy in mid-June .

As the number of vaccines increases, more people are booking trips to favorite sites such as the Northern California Wine Country, the Santa Barbara Coast and Disneyland, which reopened last week after a shutdown. unprecedented 13 months.

Tourism revenues in the state fell from $ 145 billion in 2019 to $ 65 billion last year. That figure is not expected to rise above pre-pandemic levels until 2024, as international travelers remain on the sidelines for now, said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, the nonprofit that markets the ‘State.

The travel and tourism industry has lost half of some 1.2 million jobs. Travel spending is expected to reach nearly $ 98 billion this year and $ 126 billion in 2022, to surpass $ 151 billion in 2024.

Elected officials and travel officials appeared at the San Francisco convention center on Tuesday to promote travel within the state.

“It’s a call to all Californians to not only help support this industry, which supports so many jobs in so many small businesses, but also the fact that it’s about time you got to go out safely in public,” again, and I think we all need a little weekend getaway, ”said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis.

San Francisco and other gateway cities heavily reliant on international tourism have been particularly hard hit, said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel. Spending by international visitors fell 84% to $ 829 million last year, and spending on meetings and conventions fell 85% to $ 275 million.

During the pandemic, the Moscone Convention Center served as a shelter for the homeless, the city’s emergency operations center, and a site for mass vaccination.

“Now is the time to open up this building for its primary function of hosting large-scale meetings and events to really support the heart of this city, and you’ll see that happen this fall,” D’Alessandro said.

Beteta said the state lost $ 12 billion from June 2020 to February as residents went on vacation out of state, including $ 1 billion for Mexico.

“It’s about choosing California and choosing your fellow Californians first as an act of modern patriotism and helping get the state back on track,” she said.

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