Theme parks in California are slowly reopening.
Universal Studios Hollywood reopened today, and Disneyland will open its gates on April 30th! Obviously, we’re excited to get back into the parks, but the impact of these reopenings is much bigger than that. As the tourism industry slowly rebuilds in California, the economy — including small businesses — is already beginning to recover.
Tourism suffered in California in 2020: according to MSN, it was at only 41% of its 2019 levels. The last time tourism spending was that low was 1996! Now, there’s a silver lining: theme parks’ reopening will likely lead to a surge of economic growth in the area. Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva shared, “The impact of both Disneyland and Universal Studios to our local economy is significant for all of our small businesses and surrounding industries.” She added that there will “undoubtedly” be that economic surge.
Small business are already reaping the rewards. Karmel Shuttle Service, a transportation company owned by Michael Afram, saw its best month of sales since the state shut down last year. 50% of his pre-pandemic business was in the Disneyland area alone. However, he says that while “we weathered the storm and are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” there’s still a long way to go. His sales have rebounded only 1/30 of the way to their pre-pandemic levels.
Small businesses in California — and Los Angeles specifically — are closely tied to the tourism industry. According to Lawren Markle, senior director of communications for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, that sector supports more than 600,000 jobs. Theme parks’ reopening is, she says, “a very public signal that things are getting back to normal in LA and traveling to Los Angeles is starting to look practical and enjoyable again.” Boosting tourism will directly contribute to economic growth.
California looks to the success Florida has had in reopening its theme parks with safety precautions in place. California is also looking towards a full reopening, with a target date of June 15th. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more, so stay tuned to DFB!