With the reopening of California, the state’s large tourism industry is hoping for a major return. The head of the cheerleaders was, of course, the government Gavin Newsom.
Earlier this week, my colleague Tariro Mzezewa, who is booking travel for The Times, spoke to the governor to finally welcome visitors back. Here is their conversation, lightly processed and summarized:
There were many starts and stops to travel, and moments when people thought California was going to open, but did not. Can you tell me why now is the time to fully reopen?
We have the lowest positivity rates and the highest vaccination rates in America. We feel that we are well positioned and very enthusiastic.
There is a lot of focus on travel in your reopening plan. Why does travel to California matter so much?
It was a $ 145 billion a year industry. No other state comes close, including Florida. There is therefore no state that has more to gain from the full reopening.. The vast majority, the overwhelming majority of the state, does work, but with some restrictions. It only removes the final constraints regarding physical distance and capacity.
The tourism industry is part of the spirit and pride of the state. What makes California such a special place is the incredible diversification of options and opportunities for experiences, for magical moments.
Why is California’s recovery important to the rest of the country?
Thirty-eight percent of America’s work came from this state last month. America’s recovery was reinforced by California’s recovery. You see the exorbitant number in the tourism and hospitality sector in these statistics.
There is no American recovery without California’s recovery. The good news is that the state’s economic recovery is well underway. This should create optimism not only in California but also in the United States.
What investment are you now making in the travel industry? And what do you do for travel workers in California?
This state does not turn its back on unemployment insurance, as many of the red states have. The state provided sick leave and expanded the workers’ benefits for displaced workers. We are proud to lead the nation in protecting workers.
We have just invested almost $ 100 million in an advertising program. The state has invested $ 95 million to highlight vacations and events in the state. We realize that international tourism is going to recover more slowly, but domestic tourism is booming back, and that’s why we really want more aggressive equipment and not give everything to Florida.
Homelessness in California is at a turning point. Are you really ready for tourists to come back while your own people are still struggling?
Yes. The answer is unequivocal. We announced our unprecedented $ 12 billion, a tenfold increase in our historic investments to address homelessness this year, by tackling street homelessness campsites, a billion and a half dollars to clean up this situation.
No one is naive about the pre-existing conditions. But we are going to use the historical budget surplus to invest as aggressively as any state has done in its history, and to deal with these issues in a very sustainable way.
What do you say to residents in parts of the state who tell you, “We’re just not ready to get tourists back?”
It’s hard, right, after a year of a certain mindset with all that anxiety and fear. But we turn the page.
Because of our initial focus on healthcare, our economy has fared better and is even better to do. According to forecasts that states are ready to outperform the rest of the country in economic recovery, California tops the list – largely because of the tourism and hospitality industry.
It’s very personal to me because I ended up in politics through this industry. I started right from university and I started nine restaurants, four hotels, four wineries. I say this is a way to show deep respect, also empathy, for the way this industry has been doing a sledgehammer for the past year and a half.
Between all the vaccine incentives and gifts, what do you say to people who say it’s a political move, or that you want to get attention? the revocation attempt against you?
There is nothing that promotes us that our abstract would not promote. There is nothing we promote that other states do not promote in the same way, so I will leave it at that.
The incentives actually work. We have announced a 13.3 percent increase week over a week, so demonstrably it works, and it is also something that the government of Biden itself has promoted, and on top of that, encourages the countries to participate and set up these programs on the basis of federal compensation. We will be fools not to take advantage.
There is so much talk about digital proof of vaccination. Can Californians expect anything from you anytime soon?
We announce that you can take the paper verification and digitize it. This is not a passport. This is not a requirement. This is an option for people to have a digitized copy instead of their paper vaccination cards.
Disney reopens for visitors outside the state. What does this mean for California?
This is drawing. It is a proxy for the rest of the state. Disneyland is of such an iconic status that it can boost self-confidence more than anything else. It has a very significant local economic impact, which is important.
I spoke to a good friend of mine who runs a resort, and he says that they are already exceeding the rates and occupancy and numbers of 2019 in terms of profitability. You can already see that sectors of the economy are performing better than the record year of 2019. It is not felt evenly, and I think about it. In total, it will take a few years before the industry returns to 2019 numbers. But you see, revenge tourism is already taking shape in California.
Here’s what you need to know today
On Thursday, President Biden Juneteenth officially made a national holiday – one of the biggest honors he will have as president, he said.
Which means it’s about to be the first federal holiday in American history: The Federal Office of Personnel Management announced that most federal employees would observe it on Friday, as June 19 this year falls on a Saturday.
The holiday commemorates the end of slavery. Many have said that its recognition as a federal holiday has long been unnecessary. The president described the holiday as “a day of, in my opinion, deep and deep power”, noting that it was the first new national holiday since Martin Luther King Day was introduced in 1983.
Congress overwhelmingly supported the move. The House approved the holiday designation measure by a vote of 415 to 14. California representatives Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock were among the 14.