Letter: Visit Laguna Beach Pleads for National, Local Aid

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As Orange County residents and businesses respond and adapt to the impact COVID-19 is having on our communities, one industry in particular has been brought to a complete stand-still – travel and tourism.

Tourism is a key economic driver in our county encompassing more than 500 hotels, major key attractions, and a workforce of 180,000.  Last year, tourism generated more than $21.3B in total economic benefits to Orange County, money that is used to fund vital public priorities such as infrastructure improvements, community development projects and public safety. In Laguna Beach alone, visitor spending surpassed half a billion dollars and continues to support more than 5,000 local jobs. For the last 14 years, I have watched our local travel and tourism industry flourish and benefit our community and neighbors as a result.

However, the entire travel and tourism industry is currently in peril, including the thousands upon thousands of local workers that rely on visitors to keep food on their tables. The short-term impact of COVID-19 has been catastrophic for our hospitality partners and businesses.

That is why Visit Laguna Beach has joined with U.S. Travel Association to request that Congress establish a fund to keep workers employed, provide emergency liquidity for travel businesses to remain open and expand the Small Business Administration loan program. We are asking Congress to act today to ensure the Laguna Beach travel industry and its 5,000+ workers will have the means to sustain themselves through this painful economic period.

Our community is strong and resilient, as is our industry, and we will continue to work together to support one another. We at Visit Laguna Beach promise to continue to fulfill our mission of promoting business and leisure travel to visitors around the world – so they know when they can travel, we will welcome them with open arms. Until then, we will continue supporting the Laguna Beach community and small businesses and do everything we can to help them weather this storm.

While we heed the warnings to shelter in place, there are safe ways you can help our small businesses stay afloat. For more information on ways you can help Laguna Beach, please visit our Health Advisory page at VisitLagunaBeach.com.

Ashley Johnson, President & CEO of Visit Laguna Beach

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