Ahead of California’s full reopening on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke optimistically about the importance of rebuilding California’s travel industry, which he said “had the sledgehammer taken to it” during the pandemic.
“This was a $145-billion-a-year industry,” he said in an interview on Monday, after announcing the state’s plans to reopen at a news conference at San Francisco’s Ferry Building. “No other state comes close, including Florida, so there’s no state that has more to gain in terms of fully reopening.”
Mr. Newsom said that, thanks to its high vaccine and low Covid positivity rate, on Tuesday most remaining rules about social distancing and all rules about capacity limits will be lifted. People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks, with exceptions for public transit and other specialized settings.
In the interview, Mr. Newsom said that travel is central to the effort to get the state’s economy going again.
“The tourism industry is part of the spirit and pride of the state,” he said noting that travel and tourism represent a significant slice of the state’s jobs. “What makes California such a special place is the incredible diversification of options and opportunities for experiences for magical moments.”
The state has invested $95 million into expanding marketing campaigns created by its tourist board, Visit California, and it will also continue to support travel workers, many of whom lost jobs during the pandemic.
“This state is not turning its back on unemployment insurance as many of the red states have,” Mr. Newsom said. “The state has provided a sick leave, and has extended workers’ comp benefits to displaced workers.”
To encourage vaccination — and travel — California is offering incentives, including a special lottery with a $1.5 million prize, as part of what it is calling the Vax For The Win campaign. On July 1, Californians aged 18 and older who are at least partially vaccinated can enter a drawing for one of six “dream vacation” packages created in conjunction with Visit California. The packages include trips to Anaheim, Greater Palm Springs, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco and are being paid for by various hospitality partners, though the state will provide $2,000 per vacation for travel expenses. Fifteen Californians will get prizes of $50,000 each. The state is also giving $50 gift cards to 2 million people who get vaccinated.
“We are certain that these vaccine incentives have worked and that’s we want to continue in that spirit,” Mr. Newsom said at the Ferry Building.
California lost nearly half of the 1.2 million jobs in its hospitality and tourism industries during the pandemic and Mr. Newsom hopes that some 300,000 jobs can be recovered within a year, a recovery that would normally take several years.