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On June 15, California uniformly lifted most state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions across all of its counties. With Greater Los Angeles having been among America's hardest-hit metropolitan areas amid the pandemic, that day's arrival signified a major milestone along the city's return track toward normalcy.
The state's new public health order supersedes all previous health orders and contains only limited restrictions relating to masking requirements at mega-events, as well as in K-12 schools and other childcare settings. Per federal orders, face masks will still be required while on planes and any public transit, as well as airports and transportation stations.
To mark the long-awaited occasion, members of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board held a virtual media briefing to explain what exactly California's June 15 reopening means for L.A.'s comeback and share recent data that sheds light on tourism forecasts and emerging trends.
Los Angeles County has formally aligned with the state's guidelines, which means that most capacity restrictions, physical distancing requirements and mask mandates will be eased. The experiences that visitors and Angelinos alike love so much, including our incredible restaurants and bars, museums and performing arts venues, in-person sporting events, shopping centers and retail stores, theme parks and other attractions, all of them can finally return to normal business operations," said Adam Burke, President and CEO of L.A. Tourism. "As a result of these changes, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to say that L.A.'s comeback is well underway and our City of Angels is fully open for business."
"As has been the case after every major economic disruption this century, Travel and Tourism is ready to lead the way for our region's economic recovery. It's impossible to overstate just how vital this sector is to L.A.'s prosperity," Burke continued. "Demand for the L.A. experience remains high."
"We know from some of our consumer sentiment research that a visit to L.A. fits the bill." Chelsea Benitez, L.A. Tourism's Director of Research & Insights, revealed. "Destination Analysts does a weekly consumer sentiment survey of leisure travelers in the United States, and the most recent wave of data shows that 41 percent of leisure travelers say they plan to visit beach destinations in the next few months, and 39 percent plan to visit cities and metropolitan areas in the next few months." Of course, Los Angeles encompasses both.
In discussing L.A.'s visitation forecast, Benitez shared, "Tourism Economics forecast that we will reach 80 percent of our 2019 visitation in 2021 with 40.3 million visitors. When we move to 2022, we'll get 91 percent of our 2019 visitation back and expect a full recovery by 2023 with 100 percent of our visitation back at 51 million visitors."
According to Destination Analysts research, California and Los Angeles are among the top desired domestic destinations that travelers want to visit in 2021. And, as it turns out, the city has already started seeing some of those post-pandemic travelers, with hotel occupancy having surpassed 70 percent for the past 12 weekends in a row, and two of those weekends actually surpassing 80 percent.
There can be no doubt that the state's robust COVID-19 campaigns contributed significantly to improving California's epidemiological situation, which then enabled the June 15 dropping of restrictions. "California as a whole has a really strong vaccine distribution," Benitez explained. "In this state, 70 percent or more of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Looking at L.A., the current risk of COVID in Los Angeles is minimal. We have a positivity rate of less than one percent and…We're the number one county in the state for vaccine doses administered."
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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