Journey ban dampers vacation spirit for Inland Empire tourism business – San Bernardino Solar

Every year around this time, out-of-towers flock to the Inland Empire to celebrate the holiday season in a variety of ways.

They book stays in hotels in Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside. Shop for gifts at Ontario Mills, Victoria Gardens, and the Galleria in Tyler. Catch a vacation-themed show at the Toyota Arena or Fox Performing Arts Center. and dine wherever you can get a table on a busy December evening.

This year, however, much of California is operating on “stay-at-home” orders due to rising coronavirus cases, hotels in the area have many vacancies, shopping malls have limited capacity, most shows have been canceled and restaurants are allowed do not offer food. in service.

With Christmas and New Years Eve in sight and such restrictions on travelers – not just outside of the state but within the state as well – fewer people in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties will celebrate the city holidays.

“Tourism is tightly linked and I think this is being overlooked at the state level,” said Michael Krause, president and CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Tourism is a far-reaching arena. Most people think it’s going to Disneyland or Universal (Studios), but it’s not just that. A convention stays longer than a tourist. Visitors eat in restaurants, shop in our malls and entertain themselves with the nightlife.

  • The dogs Joey, Top and Angelica are strolling through an almost empty city center on the riverside on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • The legendary riverside rain crossing casts a long shadow on an almost empty riverside in the city center on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

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  • The streets of downtown Riverside were empty enough for this biker to pop a wheelie on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Danica Zarasate River residents (left) and Adrian Goei enjoy noodles outside of Saku Ramen in downtown Riverside on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Few went to the Mission Galleria across from the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mission Inn is holding Christmas lights at the Inn instead of the usual light festival. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Although open signs were lit at several stores in downtown Riverside such as the Mission Inn Musuem, the area was almost empty on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Downtown Riverside will be empty on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 as Southern California remains under Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay, which began on Sunday, December 6, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Paul Phapornchai photographs a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in downtown Riverside on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Mrs. Tiggy Winkles and other stores were open, but few made purchases at the Main Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Riverside on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Downtown Riverside will be quiet on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 as Governor Gavin Newsom remains home throughout Southern California. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Downtown Riverside will be empty on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 as Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home mandate that began December 6, 2020 continues. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Troy Terrell, a 13-year-old Riverside resident, and his dog Layla wait for his mother to shop at Mrs. Tiggy Winkles’ in the Main Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Riverside on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

“To make all of this disappear,” Krause continued, “it all has to do with tourism and visitors and brings in a lot of tax money for small businesses.

“Small businesses are badly affected (pandemic). It was amazing how all of these things work out. “

Governor Gavin Newsom’s home stay order began on Sunday, December 6, when the capacity of the Southern California intensive care unit (ICU) dropped below 15%. Less than two weeks later, ICU capacity dropped to 0% in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego counties.

The order prohibited hotels and other lodges from accepting or honoring reservations outside of the state for non-essential travel unless certain quarantine guidelines were observed.

In a traditional year, the Toyota Arena welcomes 2 million visitors, Krause said. The Ontario Convention Center, half of it.

On each of the 300 days of the year, the venue has booked something with 11,000 seats, and 200 to 300 employees are suitable for the day’s celebrations.

“All these people are gone,” added Krause, “and have been since March.”

December in particular, Krause said, usually brings travelers and tour groups with tickets to the Rose Parade on New Years Day and the Rose Bowl game that follows. After a 45-minute drive to Pasadena, visitors tend to book hotels in Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga due to demand for rooms in Los Angeles.

Since the Rose Parade was canceled for the first time since 1945 and the Rose Bowl game was relocated to Texas, the local hotels have been banned from this deal, and they are not the only hotel facility to be injured as a result.

“You have to connect all the dots,” said Krause. “The airport, the hotels, the arena, the convention center and all services in the community are affected. You can choose any restaurant and see the association with the visitors. “

In Riverside, the hugely popular Mission Inn Hotel & Spa Festival of Lights changed its name this year to warn visitors that the 2020 edition would be different.

The annual Christmas display has been renamed Christmas Lights at the Inn and was designed to keep visitor numbers at a safe and manageable level as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths increased across the region at the time of establishment.

They’ve gotten worse since then.

While an estimated 700,000 people travel to downtown Riverside in any given year to attend the six-week festival, this winter organizers stopped large crowds from preventing the virus from spreading.

“We want everyone to be safe and healthy so that they can enjoy the Festival of Lights for many years to come,” said Margery Haupt, the city’s arts and culture manager, before the festival kicks off on November 27th. “It just has to be done differently this year.”

In a much cooler climate, Aga Babrowska, manager of Leroy’s ski and snowboard store in Big Bear Lake, said store rents have fallen because local snow locations restrict attendees to allow social distancing.

As a result, the business is about a quarter of what it usually is at this time of year.

“We’re staying open just to survive the winter,” said Babrowska. “But it’s bad.”

Due to the rising number of coronaviruses in the area, Big Bear Lake has canceled its popular Village Christmas, a unique post-harvest celebration for locals and visitors alike. While the mountain community still sees decent crowds, City Manager Frank Rush said, “The people here have declined noticeably. “

When Rush started his new gig in February, everyone raved about how Big Bear Lake makes the holidays.

For now, these plans have been put on hold.

“Our primary focus is making sure that all businesses and visitors are doing the right thing, common sense,” said Rush. “Masks, distant, stay in the same household. Hopefully we’ll get out again soon and our businesses won’t hurt too much. “

The authors David Downey and Laylan Connelly contributed to this report.

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