San Diego Economy Feeling Squeeze From Coronavirus
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Photo by Erik Anderson
San Diego’s economy is already being hurt by concern about the impact of the coronavirus.
Several large and small associations canceled San Diego conventions this week and that could hit the local hospitality industry hard.
San Diego’s Tourism Authority says the hospitality industry employs 200,000 people and generates $11 billion worth of direct economic activity every year. There’s also another $18 billion of indirect economic impacts.
That helps explain why local officials are so concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 situation.
This week the American Association for Cancer Research canceled their March convention, an event that brings 23,000 people to San Diego.
Experimental Biology, the Parking Expo and American Medical Group Association also canceled San Diego events at the convention center.
“We’re seeing significant cancellations,” said Joe Terzi of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “We’re in kind of the middle of our major convention season in San Diego. It usually runs from February to May and June. And, we’ve had some cancellations that are really going to hurt.”
Tourism officials are working with clients considering canceling events to see if those conventions can be rescheduled or postponed. Convention center officials also said they are working with their clients on alternatives, such as live streaming and changing food services to minimize contact.
There are other worries for San Diego as well. President Trump has floated the idea of closing the border because of the virus. That could have an immediate and dramatic economic impact.
“I think that would cause serious problems,” said Alan Gin, a University of San Diego economist. “A lot of people live south of the border and commute to work here in San Diego, so there would be some disruptions where commuting is concerned. And then a lot of people south of the border will shop here to our retailers, particularly in the south bay would be negatively impacted if the border is closed for any significant length of time.”
Local officials said the question is no longer whether the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact, but rather how long that impact will last and how deep it will be.
KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman contributed to this story
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