Tourism In San Diego Comes To A Halt Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego was seeing something today that it hasn't for a while, the docking of a cruise ship in the port. But of course, since nothing is normal these days, the passengers from this ship will not be headed for a great day in the city. They'll be screened for any signs of Corona virus and sent on their way is just one instance of the huge impact the coven 19 outbreak is having on tourism in San Diego. And no one is quite sure how long it will take our region to recover. Joining me is Lori Weisberg, who covers travel and tourism for the San Diego union Tribune. Laurie, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:36 Thanks. Speaker 1: 00:38 Tell us what the situation is with tourism based businesses in San Diego. And if you would start with the theme parks like SeaWorld and Legoland. Speaker 2: 00:47 Oh sure. And really there's no sector of the tourism industry that isn't really being devastated right now, but you've got, um, she rolled in Lego land, both shutdown, she rolled Justin outside. It's re, it's furloughing 90% of its employees, uh, and it doesn't have a reopen date. Lego land is looking more like, uh, they're saying that they would reopen in mid April, but we all know that could change. So you've got those two big theme park companies shut down and, and outside of our County of course, Disneyland universal studios. So there is, as I said, no part of the sector or no theme parks is left untouched on this. Speaker 1: 01:24 So basically all of San Diego's tourist attractions are closed at this time. Speaker 2: 01:29 That's correct. Uh, the zoo as well. Um, the zoo just sent out a press advisory today that it's continuing. It's extending its shutdown as well, so yes, that's correct. Speaker 1: 01:40 What's the situation with the big tourist hotels like the hotel Del? Speaker 2: 01:44 So one by one they've been closing the hotel. Del is the most recent high-profile hotel to close. Um, we wrote about how a number of bigger hotels are closing like the Manchester grand Hyatt or LeBaron Del Mar. Um, a number of them, uh, the Solomar. So they're there a number of hotels and I think increasingly you will see more and more of them closing cause it's a six pensive to keep these buildings open with no with no occupancy and the occupancy in normal times. It's like around high seventies, 80% occupancy is dip to single digits and in some places zero occupancy. That's just, you've never seen anything like that before. Speaker 1: 02:29 Are any of the hotels offering their workers some kind of lifeline, like, like extended pay or free food or anything like that? Speaker 2: 02:38 Uh, well the probably the, the one I know about most in terms of extending their pay is on the Rancho Valencia upscale resort in Rancho Santa Fe. They are continuing to pay their employees through, I think mid to later April. Um, the Evans hotels are a local hotel. Yay. They just announced that they've got a whole, um, meal and food plan and other supplies that they're making available, um, household supplies that they're making available to their workers. So you're seeing that, you're seeing that a lot with some of the restaurants doing that with their employees too. Um, but the idea of continuing pay that five is much less common. Speaker 1: 03:16 Now. The airport is pretty much of a ghost town are the airlines on reduced schedules, Speaker 2: 03:23 very reduced. Um, Southwest airlines just announced, um, that they're dropping notations. They dropping, they're suspending the start of the much ballyhooed flights from San Diego to why those nonstop flights are, those are on hold, but they've, they've reduced their flights by about their capacity. About 40%. American airlines just announced that fair reducing their capacity by 70%. So not surprisingly, it will be a ghost town and those, those flights are boring, you know, almost empty. So I guess the thinking is if they reduce the capacity, maybe the planes that do go out and have a few more people, um, on those, on those planes. But yeah, huge reductions on capacity on the, on the major airlines. Speaker 1: 04:07 Now we all know that tourism is big business in San Diego, but how big, I mean, how much of a hit are we likely to take with this? Speaker 2: 04:15 So I'm in dollars, I don't know how big it hit yet, but tourism is in San Diego County. It's [inaudible] third largest industry behind military manufacturing. It's 11, $12 billion in annual spending a year. Um, so that spending is going to go down dramatically. We have one taste of the impact already. Um, the mayor's office announced last week that, um, they're just in the current fiscal year. They're, excuse me, in the upcoming fiscal year, they're expecting an $83 million drop in their hotel room tax revenue, which is a big part of the general fund. So when you have these occupancies so low that um, 10 and a half percent revenue that you normally get is gone. So that's, that's we already can see. That's one way of measuring the huge impact in revenue that we'll be seeing as this continues. Speaker 1: 05:06 And of course the big question that's looming, what about Comicon? Speaker 2: 05:11 I know I keep, I keep thinking that there's to any day now there's going to be an announcement saying comic con is off. Um, it's just her convention, which is an Anaheim each year in April that was canceled. Now comic con has a little more time till July. Um, but you know, we're already hearing about this is going to go into April, may, maybe we'll know more by June. Um, the tourism authorities said that they really have, they really need to make up their mind by early June. And when you think about 130,000 people coming, and when on that exhibit floor, it's like people shoulder to shoulder. Um, there would be no way you can do any kind of social distancing in that kind of a convention. So it's, it's still a question Mark. Um, and the aren't changing Speaker 1: 05:58 which way they're going. Yes. It's hard to imagine in this climate. So Lorelei, I've been speaking with Lori Weisberg. She covers travel and tourism for the San Diego union Tribune. And Lori, thank you so much. Thank you.