With Orange County tourism at standstill, cities looking for economic solutions

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- The tourism industry in Orange County, as is in many other places, is at a standstill due to the nationwide call to stop the spread of COVID-19 with social distancing.

The county usually sees about 44 million visitors a year - 30 million of them visit Anaheim. More than half of Anaheim's general fund comes from tourism.

Another major attraction in Orange County is Huntington Beach, which has become a ghost town.

The Huntington Beach parking lots are closed to enforce social distancing, although the beaches themselves remain open.

The loss of visitors also means a big hit to revenues of local city governments.

Anaheim, for example, gets about 60 percent of its $355 million general fund from tourism, according to city spokesman Mike Lyster. A lot of the visitors to Disneyland and other attractions in Anaheim also spend money elsewhere in Orange County.

The president of Visit Huntington Beach says he'd hate to see that taken from the community.

"This virus is affecting, I think, the very fabric of our economic DNA in a big way," said Kelly Miller, president of Visit Huntington Beach. "The beach is the beach. And we have that to hold on to. My golly, that's what we are gonna do."

But there's hope on the horizon as some city leaders look ahead to solutions and ways to recover.

In an emergency meeting on Thursday night, the Anaheim City Council heard the Recovery Anaheim proposal. If passed, $15 million will go toward families in need and marketing.
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