LOS ANGELES - As COVID-19 cases drop and schools across California prepare to reopen, tourism officials say they are left in the dark not knowing when it will be safe to hold events again.
Tourism officials and labor groups are calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to immediately issue guidelines clarifying under what conditions business meetings, events, and conventions can resume.
In a letter addressed to Newsom, tourism officials say California is losing business and jobs to other states "not just today but in 2022 and beyond because of the uncertainty caused by a lack of guidelines."
The letter has been signed by 131 people in the tourism industry, including those with Visit Anaheim, Long Beach Convention Center, California Travel Association, Hotel Council of San Francisco, Destination Irvine and so many others.
According to data from Oxford Economics, for every month California delays the opening of business meeting and events, the state loses $4.1 billion in economic activity.
In 2019 the tourism industry in California accounted for $66.1 billion in direct spending and 457,000 jobs.
Tourism and labor officials say that the governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy makes no mention of business meetings, events and conventions and there are currently no guidelines for safe future re-openings.
"Potential clients looking to book events in California see this as a signal that California is closed indefinitely," the letter to the governor read.
"We’re not asking Governor Newsom to open California to business meetings and events tomorrow, we’re asking for a plan today so we can safely hold events in the future," said Barb Newton, President and CEO, CalTravel. "These events bring more than just direct revenue and jobs. They bring people who spend money on hotel rooms, restaurants, local shops and services. The ripple effect is huge and benefits both large and small communities but we’re losing the benefits to other states."
Newton says several other states are safely holding business meetings, events and conventions. Meanwhile in California, customers are backing out of events for 2021 and 2022.
"Every day I’m on the phone with someone trying to convince them to not cancel and take their business to another state," said Steve Goodling, President and CEO, Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We need the governor to provide guidelines to signal to our customers that California will one day be open to hosting events. We want the jobs and revenue here in California, not other states."