By Victor Dollar
After more than a year of restrictions, California’s tourism sector reopens for small gatherings, meetings and events this month — the first step on the state’s journey to economic recovery.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and “Beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy” lays out the COVID-19 safety requirements venues are expected to follow. It also set June 15 as the date all industries across California can reopen with safety measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“This is fantastic news for our hotels, their employees and our guests. This is the light at the end of the 18-month COVID tunnel our industry has been waiting to see,” Lynn S. Mohrfeld of the California Hotel & Lodging Association said in a statement to the media.
The leadership at Ventura County Coast, a tourism association in western Ventura County, couldn’t agree more.
The ability to safely resume meetings and events means more business, jobs, and direct spending throughout our region. Our local venues are ready to get back to doing what we do best: hosting groups and taking care of our guests.
Earlier this year, Ventura County Coast partnered with the California Hotel & Lodging Association to create an online resource for local venues called the “Clean + Safe Meeting and Events Guidelines” virtual tour, turning real-life space at the Ventura Beach Marriott into an immersive digital environment to demonstrate safety protocols for meetings and events.
The 360-degree tour is available to view at venturacountycoast.com/safemeetings, along with a digital toolkit of resources for hospitality venues in need of support.
While we always strive to be clean in the hotel business, we want to show our visitors that we are going above and beyond to keep them healthy and safe. In addition to implementing these guidelines, our venues are investing in extensive training for our returning employees who were laid off during the pandemic and new hires needed to replace those who were forced to move on to new careers.
Business meetings, trade shows, and conventions are a major driver of Ventura County Coast’s broader tourism industry, supporting more than 17,000 jobs and bringing in $1.8 billion in visitor spending. Those revenues are now down more than 45% due to the pandemic.
California’s broader tourism industry accounted for $66.1 billion in direct spending and 457,000 jobs in 2019, according to two October 2020 studies by Oxford Economics. The same studies also found California lost $4.1 billion each month the state delayed safely reopening for meetings and events.
Recovering local losses will take years of hard work and dedication from every member of our region’s hospitality sector, but it is a challenge we are more than ready to take on. Our venues are prepared to serve guests safely, giving them the confidence to travel to the Ventura County coast and invest in our beautiful, friendly community. Soon we will be back to thriving as a premiere destination for experiencing the best of what Southern California has to offer.
• Victor Dollar is senior vice president of sales for Brighton Management and board chair of Ventura County Coast, a tourism brand administered by the Ventura County Lodging Association that includes the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura and Port Hueneme.