San Diego gears up for Spring Break travelers

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Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 08, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Spring Break is upon us, and many parts of the country are already seeing a spike in tourism. San Diego is gearing up for more travelers while still following COVID-19 guidelines.

Beach towns are always a big draw when it comes to Spring Break. But Erez Atava says last year was dismal.

"We didn't have any Spring Break. We closed the store for two months," Atava said.

Atava is the owner of The Bikini Shoppe in Mission Beach. He says California's strict stay-at-home order and travel guidelines made sales plummet.

"It's been really, really tough," Atava said. "We lost a lot of tourists, especially the ones from overseas."

Meanwhile, in Florida, there is already a surge in college Spring Breakers from around the nation hitting the beaches. This is increasing concerns of COVID-19 spread.

"We're really not looking to get the wild crowd here," Bob Rauch said.

Rauch is the CEO of RAR Hospitality. He says San Diego usually does not see too much of the rowdy college crowd. Instead, the area gets more families and nearby vacationers who drive from places like Los Angeles and Arizona. He says compared to last year's virtually zero hotel occupancy, things are slightly looking up.

"Weekends have really picked up," Rauch said. "There's a lot of what I call 'pent-up demand' or as other people have referred to as 'revenge travel.'"

Interestingly, he says many of the current bookings are made by older folks, and it all has to do with vaccine eligibility.

"The vaccine is a huge jump start for tourism because at least the first 10% to 15% who have received both shots and maybe 20% who have received at least one shot, are starting to travel," Rauch said.

Rauch says slowly, those younger than 65 are also making reservations.

"We might be able to get a bounce where families will come and stay for the entire week for the next four to six weeks," says Rauch.

Back at The Bikini Shoppe, Atava continues to practice strict COVID protocols. He says he is one of the few business owners who still check customers' temperatures as they walk through the door. He is hoping to welcome back travelers who skipped out on San Diego last year.

"We're just hopeful that it's going to be ok," Atava said.

Hotel experts say during Spring Break 2019, hotels were running at 100% capacity at around $200 a room. Last year was zero and zero. But this year, they are projecting hotels will be at 70% at about $100 a room.