SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Annual General Meeting & Tourism Celebration lost its annual designation during the pandemic cancellation last year, but it made a comeback on Wednesday in Santa Barbara.
People who run tourism businesses are still understaffed, but they managed to take the time to attend the event at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.
The nonprofit marketing organization Visit Santa Barbara put on the event in the outdoor rotunda.
Visit Santa Barbara President and CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes gave the industry update.
Janega-Dykes said 640,000 hotel room nights were lost, costing the industry $170 million in revenue. At its lowest point occupancy dipped to 13 percent the second week of April 2020. She called it one of the hardest hit industries with 50 percent unemployment.
"Fortunately we are on our way to recovery, "said Janega-Dykes.
Although it may be too soon to celebrate, things are looking up. Hotels and restaurants are hiring.
Hotel Californian General Manager Warren Nocon said, "This isn't the end of the pandemic, this is just the start of the recovery and everything we are doing right now is to support hospitality businesses in Santa Barbara come back.
Southwest Airlines launched nonstops from Oakland, Denver and Las Vegas.
Southwest's Steven Swan said he is getting a lot of good feedback from locals using the airline.
Nocon said locals can help by doing staycations and inviting family to visit.
For more information visit santabarbaraca.com