COVID-19 and its impacts to San Diego Air Travel

While so much is still unknown about the future of travel in a post-COVID world, World Trade Center San Diego (WTC) is working with San Diego International Airport (SAN) to understand how to build back an economy that is even stronger and more resilient. The connectivity provided by the airport will continue to be a vital aspect of our region and WTC remains committed to working alongside the airport and the San Diego Tourism Authority through this recovery.

WTC, San Diego Tourism Authority, and San Diego International Airport are spearheading a COVID-19 economic recovery strategy that focuses on flight retention and expansion.  As a result of the pandemic, the economic climate surrounding air travel has been unprecedentedly impacted, and SAN has felt those negative impacts. Since the beginning of the stay-at-home orders in March 2020, COVID-19 has resulted in a cumulative loss of over $396 billion for the U.S. travel economy.

As a key partner to SAN, WTC works to improve regional competitiveness and bring flights back to San Diego in a post-COVID world with a focus on business travel and economic activity.

“The shutdown has caused unprecedented disruptions to trade and travel, but we know access to global markets is an essential part of our regional recovery. Nonstop international service is correlated with an average 20 percent increase in investment flows between destinations, which is why retaining global service out of SAN—and being intentional about how we fly—should be one of our region’s highest economic development priorities,” said Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTC San Diego.

In support of SAN’s efforts, WTC has launched a corporate travel survey and conducted interviews with local business leaders to make sure SAN is aligned with the business community needs in their comprehensive recovery strategy.

Key takeaways from WTC’s Corporate Travel Survey:

  • 52% of companies have not cut travel budgets for 2021
  • 64% anticipated increased support in local businesses and economy
  • 76% of companies expect for Domestic U.S. travel to resume within the next 6 months
  • 3% of companies expect for international travel to Europe to resume within the next 6 months

#flylocal

San Diego International Airport’s regional economic impact is vital for the economic and employment recovery efforts of the region. In 2017, SAN’s annual economic impact was valued at $11.8 billion-total amount that circulates back to the regional economy. SAN has taken the safety of travelers as a core pillar in its reopening efforts, assuring safety and tranquility for San Diegans to #flylocal and help economic recovery at home.

ABOUT WORLD TRADE CENTER SAN DIEGO

World Trade Center San Diego operates as an affiliate of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. WTC San Diego works to further San Diego’s global competitiveness by building an export pipeline, attracting and retaining foreign investment, and increasing San Diego’s global profile abroad.

Do you want to know more about the work of World Trade Center San Diego? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Economy in crisis: SD tourism holds up, but the recovery remains uneven

THE KEY TAKEAWAYS…

  • San Diego’s accommodation sector is performing well as summer draws to a close.
  • Hotels have been slow to rehire workers, but recent metrics suggest that a strong spate of hiring is in the cards.
  • The recovery has been uneven, but a number of industries have recouped most of the jobs lost to COVID-19.
  • A number of industries still have a long way to go, and many may never recover all of the jobs lost from COVID as businesses shift their business models.

SAN DIEGO TOURISM ON THE UPSWING

San Diego’s accommodation sector is holding its own despite another wave of COVID-related closures amid a spike in cases. Hotels in particular are closing out the summer on a high note, with the supply of rooms within striking distance of pre-COVID levels as of mid-August. The average daily rate (ADR) for rooms is climbing back somewhat more slowly but, at about $150 per night, is up some 67.4% from COVID lows in early May.

It took about a month, but as the COVID downturn intensified, accommodation employment tracked changes in room supply and average daily rates nearly one-for-one. That relationship would have suggested that accommodation employment should have grown by about 3,500 positions in July. Instead, employers only added back just 100 jobs, signaling caution on the part of hotels as the economy slowly climbs out of the crater left by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The caution within the industry makes sense. Laying off workers is painful for employers and employees alike, which is a likely reason why hotel employment didn’t falter until April and May, even though the impacts of COVID were felt as early as March. Similarly, instead of bringing workers back on just to have to let them go again in the event of another flare-up of the virus accompanied by additional closures, hotel managers may be taking a wait-and-see approach to rehiring. Nonetheless, recent industry performance suggests that hotels should be bringing about 8,000 to 8,500 workers back on to accommodate the increase in room supply and rates over the past couple of months once they feel it’s safe to do so.

As of the July employment report, accommodation employment rested at 17,800, up 43.4% from May’s low of 12,400 but still 43.3% below its pre-COVID peak of 31,400 in February. Given that expected hotel revenues—measured by the room supply multiplied by average daily rates—are just 16.5% below pre-COVID levels, employment should quickly follow. An increase of 8,000-plus employees would bring hotel employment more in line with expected foot traffic at hotels and would follow the trend seen so far during the downturn.

SAN DIEGO FACES AN UNEVEN RECOVERY

To say that the COVID downturn and subsequent recovery have been uneven across industries would be an understatement. The hotel industry’s improvement is encouraging, and a number of industries are at or near their pre-COVID employment levels, including: Heavy and civil engineering construction; building equipment contractors; computer and electronic product manufacturing; aerospace manufacturing; grocers; securities and commodities investment; and scientific research and development services.

However, total nonfarm employment in San Diego is still down 10.5% from February due in large part to slower rehiring in industries like restaurants and bars; personal services, such as dry cleaners and other laundry services as people work from home; and local government education, likely reflecting school jobs aside from teachers—like administrators, janitors, etc.—as the county waits to resume in-person teaching.

Unfortunately, many of these jobs will be slow to come back due to their face-to-face nature. What’s worse, many of those positions may not return at all. Even with the advent of a safe and effective vaccine, many businesses have changed their fundamental business models and have adopted new operational norms—like Twitter, who made working remote a permanent option for employees. As a result, the same positions required for those companies before the COVID outbreak may no longer be necessary to operate in the post-COVID world.

The impact of COVID has not only affected the lowest-paid among us in San Diego, but it has hurt communities of color the worst. Now, more than ever, targeted and effective solutions are needed to help these communities not just recover but thrive in the future. Reskilling and training of the workforce and offering equal access to capital for minority-owned businesses are not just ethical and moral necessities—they are economic ones, too. Because, we all do better when everyone is doing better; and a more resilient San Diego economy will help us all in the long-run.

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

Regardless of how this all plays out, EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.

Request EDC assistance

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Just Say No to Winter makes a cool comeback

This post originally appeared on SDlifechanging.org. San Diego: Life. Changing. is an EDC led initiative focused on attracting and retaining STEM talent in San Diego. Check out the company map and more for information about working and living in San Diego.


It’s that time of year again. The holidays have come and gone, only to be replaced by subzero temperatures, snow-covered driveways, and really angry people commuting to work. Not exactly the kind of “chill” we’re into here in San Diego (where it’s currently 64 degrees Fahrenheit). So we’ve brought back our Just Say No to Winter campaign to remind everyone that life doesn’t have to be like that. You can actually have a meaningful career at an awesome company without freezing all season.

This year, we partnered with the San Diego Tourism Authority to make Just Say No to Winter bigger and better than ever. In addition to the digital ads served in chilly regions and the Boston subway ads we did last year, the campaign now includes subway ads in Chicago and a live activation with Surfer Sam on the stone-cold streets of New York City.

SD’s Surfer Sam paddles through NYC

From January 21-23, Surfer Sam will be walking around with a bright orange surfboard, telling people to “just say NO!” And if that doesn’t entice them, perhaps winning a trip to San Diego would. One lucky New Yorker will win a pair of roundtrip airfare with JetBlue Airlines from NYC to SD, a 3-night stay at downtown San Diego’s luxury Pendry hotel, and even a walking food tour with So Diego Tours.

Click on any of the photos below to check out some of Surfer Sam’s NYC encounters. And if you live in New York, there’s still time to catch Surfer Sam and win a trip to San Diego! Follow along on Instagram Stories for her whereabouts.

Why are we telling people to “just say no to winter?”

“Last year, San Diego saw nearly 105,000 unique job postings for STEM-related occupations,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “With tech heavyweights such as Qualcomm, Illumina, Viasat and now Apple who all cite talent as a major reason for their presence in our region, we must continuously strive to remain competitive by attracting, retaining and developing skilled workers. Plus, as a Boston native, I can confidently say that it is possible to have a great career without freezing every day.”

While the demand for quality STEM talent is at an all-time high nationwide, the Just Say No to Winter campaign was introduced in January 2019 in an effort to bring and retain talent to San Diego, resulting in ‘go-viral’ status, national media attention and 123 million impressions. EDC, through its SD: Life. Changing. platform, juxtaposed footage of San Diego’s (nearly) year-round sunshine with harsh, freezing winters in metros across the country, while also showcasing mission-driven companies that call this place home.

This year, with support from SDTA, EDC will be expanding its public transit advertising inside subways to Chicago and Boston and executing various digital marketing tactics, including paid and organic social media, to direct talent to justsaynotowinter.com. The Just Say No to Winter landing page will now feature links to a company map, 28 neighborhood profilestalent video profiles, and details on a campaign sweepstakes.

“Our region is a top travel destination, and it’s also home to numerous tech and life sciences companies that are doing great, life-changing work,” said Kerri Kapich, COO at the San Diego Tourism Authority. “We often hear travelers say that they fall in love with San Diego when they visit and wish they could do business here, which is why we’ve partnered with EDC. Together, we’re encouraging more people to visit San Diego and see for themselves that San Diego really is the best place to live, work and play.”

San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter promotion will run in conjunction with EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative and Advancing San Diego program, allowing for regional employers to also look inward and develop local talent. To learn more about the campaign, visit justsaynotowinter.com.

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