LA tourism industry looks to jump-start business with 'staycations'

The L.A. tourism industry is encouraging locals to take "staycations" as businesses struggle to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles has many tourist attractions, but the trouble is there just aren't a lot of tourists during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has hurt hotels and restaurants.

"Everyone stopped traveling, and I think a lot of people don't know that in the last few years, travel and tourism has actually become the third largest employer in L.A. County," says Adam Burke from the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.

According to data from the Employment Development Department, jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry in L.A. County dropped 30% between July of last year and this year.

The tourism board says people are slowly starting to go out again. Travelers, however, are a bit concerned about going too far from home so they're concentrating on "staycations."

"If every employed Angeleno would stay just three times in an L.A. hotel, support three local restaurants and visit three local attractions, that would actually help us recover 21,000 jobs in L.A. County," says Burke.

The Hotel Figueroa celebrated its 94th birthday this month. It stayed open during the pandemic and is reaching out to locals, setting up special packages for people who simply want a getaway. They say the most important thing is to make customers feel safe. As you walk in everything is touchless.

Matt Vargas from Hotel Figueroa showed Eyewitness News the new safety measures.

"You have the opportunity to check-in via kiosk, after that all communication is done by text message, so anything that the guests need is done by text," says Vargas.

In the lounge and pool areas, capacity was reduced. You can now order on your phone and food and drinks are brought to you. They are now seeing more people coming in.

"We feel very optimistic about the future. Over the past few weeks we've seen an uptick in occupancy and that's primarily due to all our local staycationers," says Vargas

Tourism officials say this will certainly help keep hotels and restaurants stay afloat for now. They think international tourism likely won't return until next year.
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