SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The San Diego Tourism Authority’s most recent report on forecasting hotel occupancy is raising some eyebrows in a good way.
“To be able to do the numbers that we did this summer, it was extremely, pleasantly surprised,” Julie Coker, President & CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority, said.
That surprise for Coker is the summer 2021 hotel occupancy figures being on par with pre-pandemic figures.
"This past summer, we were seeing 2019 numbers. So, there were weeks in July and August that our numbers exceeded what numbers we were able to achieve in 2019," Coker said.
While figures as a whole are still below pre-COVID activity, the agency is saying that the travel sector for the region is in the middle of a strong recovery during the pandemic as that gap closes.
“All of the surveys that we show in terms of traveler's sentiment is a greater level of confidence based on vaccination rates,” Coker said.
“So, the fact that San Diego was able to do such a great job with getting up to over 80 percent definitely helped.”
Other things like marketing and San Diego being a top destination helped a lot too.
The hope is this recovery will roll into 2022 with having more confidence from international travelers, attendance at conventions and getting more of the conventions themselves helping San Diego’s travel sector.
“I think what we thrive on is the convention business,” Rick Bates, Research Analyst Unite Here Local 30, said.
Something local hospitality union members agree will help also bring the workforce back to pre-pandemic levels.
“That’s where the money really flows into the hotels and convention centers,” Bates said.
“I don’t think we are going to have employers bring everybody back right away until that beings to really happen.”
Corker told ABC 10News that a whole calendar year of pre-pandemic levels for the travel sector may not happen until at least 2023.
But, showing how strong 2022 can be could hinge on how the holiday season shapes out.
“If we don’t see the rise in hospitalization cases, then I do think 2022 will be a better year for business travel,” Coker said.
“I also think that send a signal to meetings and conventions that it’s time to come back in person.”
The tourism authority also credits the success of other major events like the U.S. Open, Breeders’ Cup and marathons being done safely encourages travelers to come here and help with the recovery.