Local hospitality industry shows healthy recovery – Santa Barbara News-Press

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The Santa Barbara County hospitality industry is recovering faster than the rest of Southern California.
After overall unemployment peaked at around 14% in April 2020, the hospitality industry looked exceptionally grim. Leisure and hospitality jobs were down around 50% at the start of this year compared to 2020. 
With the addition of corporate travelers disappearing due to restrictions, tourism for both business and pleasure were both plummeting.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the hotel industry will finish 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue from 2019 after losing nearly $49 billion in business travel revenue in 2020.
However, Santa Barbara County bounced back at a surprising rate.
“Compared to other vacation destinations in the state, the South Coast’s recovery continues to outpace our competitors,” Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, told the News-Press. 
Visit Santa Barbara reported that, by this summer, hotels in the county outperformed competitors throughout Southern California. 
Mrs. Janega-Dykes told the News-Press that, while international travel faded to a negligible percentage, “leisure travel by Californians remains robust, exceeding many of our earlier predictions.” This tourism from Californians allowed for the South Coast to recover rapidly compared to the rest of the state.
Santa Barbara County continued to move forward with projects that fueled the momentum behind restorative tourism.
“Recent improvements to air service at Santa Barbara Airport continue to give Santa Barbara a strategic advantage with lower costs, increased convenience and more seats available for residents and visitors alike,” Mrs. Janega-Dykes told the News-Press.
The summer as well as various holidays quickly raised occupancy and made the coast of Santa Barbara shine. 
“Based on the most recent four week period, occupancy was at 77%, compared to 61% in 2020 and 75% in 2019,” Mrs. Janega-Dykes cited for the News-Press.
As the holiday season approaches, Visit Santa Barbara is anticipating this momentum to continue for the rest of the year. 
“Many Santa Barbara businesses and organizations are planning unique holiday events and celebrations that we expect visitors will enjoy,” Mrs. Janega-Dykes noted. 
With the anticipation of local businesses and COVID-19 cases trending downward, the positive performance of tourism in Santa Barbara County is likely to continue through the year. 
email: fmcfarland@newspress.com
News-Press Staff Writer
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