Anaheim, OC set to welcome back tourists amid easing of COVID restrictions

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- Anaheim and Orange County officials are looking forward to welcoming back tourists as the area's theme parks gear up for reopening as coronavirus cases and restrictions subside.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu started an economic news conference Thursday by enthusiastically saying, "Welcome to Anaheim!"

Along with other city and Orange County officials, say they are getting ready to welcome tourists back when Disneyland Resort and other theme parks reopen as early as the end of April.

It's been a year since the tourism industry literally stopped. According to government figures, tourism in Orange County generated more than $14 billion dollars in revenue in 2019.

In 2020, one person described the plunge in revenue as being catastrophic.

Disney says it plans to reopen its California theme parks with limited capacity by late April
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Disneyland plans to reopen by late April with limited capacity as COVID-19 trends improve in California, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced Tuesday.

"Fifteen thousand people are out of work in Anaheim. And thousands of small businesses have closed -- some for good," Anaheim City Councilman Avelino Valencia said. "Many of these businesses represent someone's life work and investment."

For the businesses that survived, local, state and federal financial assistance has helped them re-hire employees they had laid off. Orange County officials announced Thursday that over the next few weeks, protocols will be put in place to make tourists' visit there is as safe as possible when the major tourist attractions begin opening up next month.

"Good health is good business," said Lucy Dunn, the CEO of the Orange County Business Council. "And it's time to get beyond just surviving COVID. We're ready to move to thriving."

Orange County and Anaheim government officials are pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom to come up with guidelines to welcome back conventions and business meetings. That was a major source of revenue before the pandemic hit.

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