San Jose launches tourism comeback after COVID travel collapse


SAN JOSE — Business leaders launched a quest on Thursday to recapture the mammoth amounts of travel and leisure business that San Jose lost due to coronavirus-linked economic shutdowns.

“San Jose is open for business,” said Derrick Seaver, chief executive officer of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce.

Yet the comeback trail for San Jose bids to be nothing short of arduous and difficult, since the region’s leisure, hospitality and travel sector has nosedived in the wake of the coronavirus.

For one thing, San Jose is badly lagging the national trends in terms of the recovery of business and leisure travel into the South Bay city.

Nationwide, projected business travel revenue in 2022 is expected to be down 23.1% from 2019, the last full year before the onset of the coronavirus and the imposition of wide-ranging government-ordered business shutdowns to combat the deadly bug, according to research by Kalibri Labs that was released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

San Jose, in stark contrast, is projected to suffer a decline in business travel revenue in 2022 of 51.8% compared with 2019. San Francisco is even worse off, with a projected 68.8% plunge in business travel revenue.

Leisure travel revenue nationwide is projected in 2022 to be only 0.7% below the 2019 level.

San Jose’s leisure travel revenue for 2022 is predicted to be down 16% in 2022 compared with 2019. San Francisco is expected to endure a 42% decline in leisure travel this year compared with 2019, the hotel association reported.

This decline means lost money and lost jobs, said Chip Rogers, chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

“We’re here to encourage people to get back to traveling,” Rogers said.

The decreases in business and leisure travel revenue equate to $744 million in lost revenue projected for 2022 compared with the pre-COVID totals for 2019.

“We need a consistent message from our city and health department leaders that we are open for business,” Seaver said.

Executives pointed to the opening of the Signia by Hilton hotel, the former Fairmont San Jose, as an indication of an upswing in Silicon Valley’s business and leisure travel sectors.

“The opening of the Signia is a significant move,” Seaver said. “Hilton sees something in San Jose. Not only for leisure trips but also for business travel.”

Another hopeful benchmark: conventions have begun to return to downtown San Jose, according to Team San Jose, the city’s primary convention and visitor bureau.

The upcoming conventions include three in May: SID Display Week, a sign and display group; CLEO, a laser science and photo optics organization; and Famine Con, a Cosplay and Anime convention.

In August, downtown San Jose will host Silicon with Adam Savage, a big comics con meeting.

“San Jose is preparing to see a spike in leisure travel as we approach summer,” said Laura Chmielewski, vice president of Team San Jose. “We are optimistic to see major meetings and conferences return to the city, which are a major economic driver.”



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