Upgrade your browser - Unfortunately, this site has updated features that cannot run on this version of Internet Explorer. Download a free upgrade of Internet Explorer.
Tenya Lodge Crisis

California Tourism Industry Aids Pandemic Relief

By Dan Smith | 3 min

During these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to understand the invaluable role tourism plays, not only in California’s economy, but also in morale of the world-at-large.

For the first time in a decade, 2020 will bring a decline in all key California tourism economic metrics – spending, employment and tax revenue generation.


Yet, in the face of adversity, California’s tourism industry continues to take action. Business owners, destination stewards and residents are providing relief to their communities in a variety of ways. As troubling headlines dominate newsfeeds, feel-good stories from the industry resonate with Californians.


Many California businesses are mobilizing facilities, workforces and one-of-a-kind resources to support small businesses, first responders and local communities throughout the state. Distilleries are converting their alcohol into hand sanitizer to protect medical staff and the community at large. Manufacturers retooled to produce personal protective equipment. 




From donating to food banks to providing charitable hot meals, restaurants have led the way. Farmer’s Table in San Diego's Little Italy transitioned into a nonprofit community kitchen to feed first responders and healthcare workers, while Cafe Sevilla Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar donated over 2,000 pounds of food to Southern California food pantries and homeless shelters.


Celebrity chef Tyler Florence is working with the California Restaurant Association Foundation’s Restaurants Care program to help provide assistance to restaurant workers who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, are caring for a family member who has or have been out of work for more than three weeks because of a restaurant closure.


Another celebrity champion of tourism and friend of Visit California, “Somebody Feed Phil” creator and star Phil Rosenthal, donated $1 million and promised to match another $1 million in donations to chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen. The money will help #ChefsForAmerica provide hot meals and get restaurants back to work.




Despite closures, hotels throughout California are aiding their employees and communities. Evans Hotels — which includes Bahia Resort Hotel, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, and The Lodge at Torrey Pines in San Diego County — maintained cafeteria services, allowing all employees to have access to meals at no cost.


Several hotels, including Passport Resorts’ Post Ranch inn in Big Sur and Cavallo Point in Sausalito, established employee relief funds. Tenaya Lodge kept its 24-hour Emergency Response team active to serve Fish Camp in Mariposa County and areas north.


Hilton and American Express teamed to provide up to one million hotel rooms across the nation for frontline health care workers. It will allow them to stand down without facing long commutes after long shifts or worry about infecting their families. Marriott has donated $10 million in free room nights to healthcare workers in some of the hardest hit destinations, including Los Angeles.

From Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s ad-hoc food bank to the new gift card purchasing portal on Sthelena.com, destination leaders are rising up to the challenge, finding creative solutions to support local residents and businesses.


Recovery from this global pandemic will be jagged, calling for a united mission among industry members to raise awareness on why travel matters. In the meantime, discover more stories of individuals, businesses and communities who exemplify the strength of the industry here.