COVID-19 economic impact of tourism in California felt in SoCal

Mark Morrow owns Legends of Hollywood Tours. A thriving tourist attraction offering a peek into some of Hollywood’s famous landmarks.

But back in March, COVID-19 brought his bus sightseeing business to a grinding halt.

“We lost our whole spring break which is money that all of the tour companies need to survive is spring break and then now going into summer that’s the biggie is summer and it looks like we’re going to miss part of summer,” said Morrow. 

According to a new report by Tourism Economics, the pandemic is projected to cost California $72.1 billion in tourism losses with more than 600,000 industry jobs wiped out by the end of May. For Morrow, he’s waiting for the city to give him and other tour companies the green light.

“There’s a lot of good people that are hurting right now. Hopefully we can weather the storm,” said Morrow.

A storm that is a stark contrast from 2019.

Data shows visitors pumped an all-time high of nearly $25 billion directly into the Los Angeles economy. Hotels also set an all-time high for rooms sold last year. And with California slowly reopening Morrow says he’s trying to stay positive. 

“What’s the alternative? Sit around and be depressed about it. I’m hoping we can survive it. I don’t want to file for bankruptcy. I want to keep this going, it’s a wonderful industry. I love doing it,” said Morrow.

The tour operator has been in business since 2010 and Morrow says he’s looking at some creative ways to attract customers once he’s allowed to restart -- including offering custom made masks and private tours.