Wapakoneta Daily News
Tourism is helping small, local, business
Small businesses in the U.S. that depend
on tourism and vacationers say business is
bouncing back, as Americans rebook postponed trips and
spend freely on food, entertainment and souvenirs.
U.S. states and cities have loosened many of their restrictions on crowd size and maskwearing, a positive
sign for businesses that struggled for
more than a year when theme parks
and other tourist attractions were shuttered.
Still, the return to a pre-pandemic “normal” is a way off for most. There are few
business travelers and international tourists. Many businesses are grappling with staff
shortages and other challenges. And if a
surge of the more contagious delta variant
or another variant of the coronavirus forces states to reenact restrictions or lockdowns, the progress might be lost.
The U.S. Travel Association, a travel industry trade group, predicts domestic travel spending will total $787 billion in 2021. That’s up 22% from 2020 but still
down 20% from 2019 levels. The association predicts travel spending won’t completely rebound above 2019 levels until 2024.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jenny Kimball, co-owner of the independent hotel La Fonda on the Plaza, with 180 rooms, said
her hotel is sold out through the summer and booked about 90%
on average for the fall. That’s a welcome change from the two
or three guests the hotel had at one point as
it stayed open during the height of the pandemic.
The clientele is different than prior to the pandemic: There
are more families and people working remotely, and they’re
staying longer, an average or four or five nights compared to two or three.
“Families want to come and stay longer and really vacation and see more of the city and more of the museums,” Kimball says.
Kimball’s biggest problem: A shortage
of workers in the restaurant, bar and kitchen. She urged vacationers to have
Heather Bise owns and runs a 7-bedroom
bed-and-breakfast in Cleveland, Ohio, near
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She
opened The House of Bise Bespoke in 2019 and catered to international tourists, attracting guests from New Zealand, Botswana, Eastern Europe and other far-off