In late March the Del took its own vacation due to the travel standstill.
Coronavirus has taken a huge bite out of Coronado's tourism income. Hotel stays have plummeted. Restaurants and spas sit empty. Employees are out of work. Now, the town that hasn't always welcomed leisure visitors needs them back.
According to Discover Coronado, the tourism marketing group formed by the city council after the last recession, a slowdown was predicted in 2020 as three of the four major resorts underwent renovation.
Instead, things came to a screeching halt.
This year's results, "when tabulated, will document the devastation of the Hotel del Coronado renovation and coronavirus outbreak," says their annual report for fiscal year 2020-21.
The report was adopted by the city council in February, before the outbreak hit, skewing forecasts in a far more optimistic curve. Projected revenues of $600,000 for each of the two tourism improvement districts will have to be revised to account for the impacts, Discover Coronado's executive director Todd Little told the city council last month.
The biggest losses were convention visitors – Coronado's core tourism business. In late March the Del took its own vacation due to the travel standstill, reflecting what the report shows to be an 87 percent drop in conventions – and only since February 2.
"At this time there is no convention business; it doesn't exist."
It's not just the hotels losing out. Caught up in their current are restaurants, beverage providers, spas.
Events and group meetings will come back, Little told the council. But the report cited travel industry statistics that point to the second quarter of 2020 as the bottom, with the recession lasting at least three quarters. "Travel industry losses alone will be enough to push the US economy into recession."
It was amid the last recession in 2010 that the city council launched their first tourism improvement district, an agency similar to a business improvement district. In 2015, a second one was formed. Both levy an assessment of 0.5 percent on the four main hotels: the Hotel Del Coronado, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa, and Glorietta Bay Inn.
The revenue is used to market the resorts, which allows the city to collect hotel and sales taxes that help support facilities and services. Residents, however, pushed back at the tide of day-trippers and traffic the efforts drew to town.
So Discover Coronado focused more on conventions than leisure. That, too, was a success, generating $92 million in overall visitor spending in 2019, despite the renovations and loss of rooms. Then the visits stopped.
The question of how to recover has flipped things around again. Leisure travel will now come first.
While 48 percent of travelers have cancelled trips entirely, many others have reduced or changed their travel plans to stick closer to home.
In a staggered reopening, the next 6-9 months will start with families and couples, and the old overnight "staycations" once used to lure local visitors. Small town safety seems a safer bet as people slowly venture out.
Group travel probably won't rebound until 2021, Little said.
"We need to prioritize local travel at this time. That is the lowest hanging fruit available to us. And frankly, it's the only fruit that's available."