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San Diego's tourism future looking promising as hotels make changes amid pandemic

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 20:42:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - What would normally be a busy time for the tourism industry is now a slow stretch, with hotels closing or barely able to fill rooms.

Karen Finerman is the Corporate Director for Sales and Marketing for Kamla Hotels, a small hotel company with seven locations in the San Diego area. She said they chose to stay open during the pandemic, hoping to offer a place for essential workers to escape to or rely on if needed. They also have tried to help by donating unused toilet paper and also hosting blood drives at different locations. She said it’s been hard to fill rooms for the past two months.

“Typically a hotel, a break even point is 35%, typically. We were lucky to hit 10% in many cases,” said Finerman.

She noted that numbers have been gradually getting better, with some of their hotels hitting 70% capacity recently and better numbers the past two weekends. L'Auberge Del Mar also announced its planned opening for Memorial Day weekend.

She said the most searched getaways right now are National Parks and beaches, so Southern California should see a positive shift because of that.

“Most of our San Diego properties will be okay because you do have people that want to come out, they’re looking for beach, they’re looking for hiking trails, so we have that here which is so nice,” she said.

With the decreased interest in flying, the tourism industry is focusing on bringing in visitors within a driving distance, which bodes well for San Diego with neighboring cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas, where people are likely to want to escape the summer heat.

As hotels do start to open up, people will notice changes. No-contact check-in will likely become popular, where customers make their own key cards and decrease contact with employees. Also, say goodbye to breakfast buffets and get used to prepackaged meals. Hotels are now turning to wrapped plastic cups rather than reusable mugs. Make sure to do an extra sweep before you check out because hotels are less likely to keep lost-and-found items. Finerman also says they’ll leave more time between when a person checks out and when a room gets cleaned, and also when the next guest uses that room, all as an extra precaution.