By Misti Kerns
As we all are aware, coronavirus is having a profound impact on communities across the globe and the situation is no different for all of us who live, work and play in Santa Monica. At this time our first concern at Santa Monica Travel & Tourism is everyone’s wellbeing. We thank city staff for their leadership during this difficult time and are in full support of the aggressive measures taken by local, state and federal government to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it’s too soon to tell the complete story of how coronavirus is affecting Santa Monica’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and other tourist-serving businesses, it is clear that the uncertainty around the situation has decimated travel demand both internationally and domestically. In 2019 alone, travel and tourism generated nearly $2 billion dollars for Santa Monica’s economy with overnight hotel visitors injecting $58.6 million into the City of Santa Monica’s general fund through the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). These much needed funds are used to support critical city services such as our police and fire departments, libraries, public schools and parks.
Thousands of our local small and large businesses rely on the balance of both residence and visitors to stay afloat and support a workforce of 12,600 individuals, many who have received devastating news of virus-related layoffs in recent days. The unprecedented public health crisis we’re facing right now has ground travel to a halt and put the businesses and workers who rely on visitor spending in peril. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism exists to promote business and leisure travel to visitors around the country and the world, and those visits fuel our local economy and keep people employed. The travel industry businesses that contribute so much to our community, most of them small businesses, simply cannot weather this storm on their own.
Our broader industry has called on Washington to establish a fund to keep workers employed, provide emergency liquidity for travel businesses to remain open, and bulk up the Small Business Administration loan program. Congress must act today to ensure the Santa Monica travel industry and its 12,600 workers sustain themselves through this painful economic period.
On the community level, there are actions we can all take today to help our local businesses survive and recover.
- Order Take out, Curbside or Delivery: If you feel safe, consider ordering take out, curbside pick-up or delivery from your favorite restaurant. Check out https://www.santamonica.gov/coronavirus-foodservice for a list and map of local restaurants offering these services.
- Buy A Gift Card:Purchase a gift card now to give to a friends and loved ones or use yourself at a later date when businesses re-open or for online use.
- Shop Online:Look beyond Amazon while shopping online. Many local businesses offer online shopping and some even offer drop-off at your home or pick-up at the store door.
- Post A Positive Review: Leave a review online and make sure others know just how much Santa Monica businesses mean to our community.
- Promote Social Media:Like, comment, and share posts from local businesses to help increase engagement and spread the word.
- Volunteer: Check on your neighbors and friends, so many in our community are stepping up their compassion and people power in this challenging time. If you would like to volunteer go to https://www.santamonica.gov/coronavirus-volunteer.
Sending love and strength throughout our community.