SAN DIEGO – No industry has been hit harder by COVID-19 in San Diego than tourism.
Visitor spending in 2020 dropped down 55% from the previous year, leading to a loss of some 50,000 jobs, according to the San Diego Association of Governments. Domestic flights into San Diego also were down 74% and international flights down 90% in addition to the required closures.
Ripples of each event cancellation are far-reaching, impacting businesses such as hotels, grocery stores and gas stations.
COVID: 1 Year Later
Although most attractions — and industries of various shapes and sizes — have felt the crushing impact of public health restrictions, some such as the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego have been able to partially open at points during the pandemic.
Places like the Legoland California Resort, however, have been closed for much of it.
In the process, the popular Carlsbad-based theme park furloughed 1,200 employees, Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks said.
“None of us were able to foresee what was coming,” Stocks said. “We certainly didn’t expect it to be closed anywhere longer than a couple of months initially. We’ve had to come to terms with the reality of the situation quite a bit over the last 12 months.
“We’ve had to do that on numerous occasions actually as the reality sort of became updated and refreshed and every now and again.”
This week, San Diego County advanced into the red tier of California’s COVID-19 reopening blueprint, a less restrictive level allowing restaurants, movie theaters and gyms, among others, to resume limited indoor operations. In the red tier, amusement parks can reopen as early as April 1 with capacity limited to 15%.
Outdoor sports and live performances with attendees also can resume the same day at a 20% capacity and with concession sales primarily happening in-seat.
For some, there’s hope a recovery is not far off.
“The news we’ve gotten recently about there being a path to reopening has been really positive for us and it really gives us some energy to get started toward reopening,” Stocks said.