Fresno Convention Center file photo

published on March 11, 2021 - 11:36 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

An open letter signed by 131 California tourism officials and labor groups was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom Wednesday claiming a lack of opening guidelines is harming the industry for the long run.

The letter said the lack of guidelines for safe opening and operations for corporate meetings, events and conventions will have lasting effects on the industry, which accounted for $66.1 billion in revenue and nearly half a million jobs in 2019.

They estimate they are losing $4.1 billion a month, with business going out of state.

“We’re not asking Governor Newsom to open California to business meetings and events tomorrow, we’re asking for a plan today so we can safely hold events in the future,” Barb Newton, president and CEO of CalTravel, said in a press release announcing the letter.

Local organizations signing onto the letter include the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, Visit Visalia, Visit Yosemite /Madera County, Visit Fresno County, the Visalia Marriott at the Convention Center and more.

While other states have begun holding business events under Covid safety protocol, Newsom has not released any guidelines despite a Centers for Disease Control-compliant plan the California tourism industry released in June 2020, Newton said.

Newton added that releasing guidelines to open business events wouldn’t just generate revenue and jobs, but bring customers for hotels, restaurants, local shops and other services.

“The ripple effect is huge and benefits both large and small communities, but we’re losing the benefits to other states,” Newton said.

The industry has already seen 40 events and 13,481 jobs cancelled, with cancellations for the fourth quarter of 2021 already rolling in, said Scott White, president and CEO of Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The letter is asking Newsom to review and approve or release the proposed guidelines submitted last June.

“Every day I’m on the phone with someone trying to convince them to not cancel and take their business to another state,” said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We need the governor to provide guidelines to signal to our customers that California will one day be open to hosting events. We want the jobs and revenue here in California, not other states.”

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