San Diego tourism is rebounding. Is Omicron going to derail him?


San Diego’s attractive beaches and moderate year-round weather continue to attract vacationers during the pandemic.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda / Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

As the summer season approached last year, San Diego hotels were in the throes of a massive business downturn like they had never seen in any previous recession. Overall demand for overnight stays fell by as much as 66%, and by 95% for group travel, which seemed to evaporate overnight.

In the nearly two years since the start of the pandemic, leisure travel has made a remarkable comeback, easily surpassing 2019 levels, according to Tourism Economics, but this is not the case for travel by business, government and meetings, which accounts for 40 percent of the region’s overall hotel activity.

Even without the Omicron variant, these areas are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels for some time, according to the Tourism Authority. To some extent, San Diego has benefited from a slowdown in travel to more distant overseas destinations which is expected to persist given the rise of Omicron.

“On the leisure side, people aren’t traveling to Europe right now and aren’t as inclined to go further, so we’re so lucky,” Kapich said. “So if you look at California, Arizona, and Nevada, that’s almost 50 million people, which is a big pool to tap into. We are a beautiful place with lots of outdoor activities and we are considered a very safe community which has handled the crisis very well. So we are lucky in that regard.

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

(Courtesy of Evans Hotels)

The San Diego-based Evans Hotels, which operate two resorts on Mission Bay, as well as the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, have seen a solid rebound, thanks to the desire of so many to leave their confined lives behind. home during the pandemic. This has not been the case, however, with their normal business and group clients, said Robert Gleason, president of Evans Hotels. The company’s annual revenue last year, he said, fell to less than half of 2019’s level.

“We have focused a lot of our attention on leisure travelers, including marketing the activities we offer in the hotels, such as the catamaran torch lighting ceremony, yoga on the Lodge and Bahia sundecks. , and scavenger hunts and pool music, which now last year round, ”said Gleason.

“Companies planning private trips or gatherings were more cautious, so in the fall meetings and events had to come back, but that didn’t happen because of Delta and the summer wave,” and we have seen a good number of cancellations. for groups in the fall. Now we see the same for the first quarter and the second quarter of next year.


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