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Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism Hoteliers and Stakeholders:
While 2020 provided challenges beyond anyone’s imagination due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is reason for optimism in 2021. In terms of business levels for the hospitality industry, 2021 has the potential to finish much stronger than last year, and the prospects of exiting the pandemic remain promising despite a slower than expected rollout of the vaccine. In 2020, Rancho Cordova maintained a 56.1% occupancy rate, a full 12% above the national average. Rancho Cordova’s occupancy decrease in 2020 from 2019 was less than any of our competitive set markets. Credit creative sales teams, our proximity to California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and a long history of our Rancho Cordova lodging partners working with state and federal government agencies. Many National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and healthcare personnel made, and continue to make, Rancho Cordova their home base during the pandemic. None of Rancho Cordova’s lodging properties closed during the pandemic; that was not the case for many neighboring communities and other destinations within the state and in the nation.
While Rancho Cordova did fare better than many communities and saw double the occupancy rates compared to destinations in California’s major cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, let’s not sugarcoat the realities we have faced in the tourism industry. According to U.S. Travel Association, in 2020 the U.S. travel economy lost more than $500 billion, while travel industry unemployment peaked at 51%—more than double the national unemployment rate at the height of the Great Depression. Currently, our industry is projected to take five years to recover.
However, the industry will begin to claw its way back this year. California is well-positioned to engage drive market leisure travelers as soon as a relative degree of perceived safety is reached in the minds of travelers. Visit California, the state’s tourism bureau is the most powerful and potent state-wide destination marketing organization in the U.S. Complement that with strong regional presence in Gold Country with sought after rural experiences and effective Capital Regional partners, and we have the potential to return to pre-pandemic levels more quickly than many destinations that are situated in locations that require a flight to access or are in urban core areas.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association recently released its State of the Hotel Industry 2021. This report had many sobering statistics and projections, and a couple of points of optimism, for the year including:
While we have a few bumpy months ahead, I do see several reasons that we will see 2021 as a transformational year in the pandemic recovery. Californians love to travel. Leisure travel, particularly road trips, is expected to pick up as safety concerns are alleviated. We have a robust drive market within California. Furthermore, Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism (RCTT) is leading inventive events to encourage road trip travel in 2021. Case in point, an online influencer wine competition with destinations in California, Oregon, and Washington that was spearheaded by Leena Riggs, RCTT marketing manager. Premiere events, such as the California Capital Airshow (September 24-26), are being planned for the latter portion of the year.
Also, RCTT is taking the important step of renewing the Rancho Cordova Tourism Business Improvement District, which includes a temporary recovery district fee to jumpstart marketing this year. District renewal will also give RCTT unprecedented opportunities to enhance the destination.
So, while the industry has taken major hits from COVID-19 in 2020, RCTT has ramped up support and messaging for local restaurants and other community businesses. We have worked closely with our partners at the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce. We continue to innovate. We continue to contribute to the fabric of our community, and we continue to retool for the future. Through over 80 letters to elected officials, and testimony in front of Capitol Hill, we advocated strongly at the federal level for the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) to include additional resources for hotels, and for 501(c)6 nonprofits like RCTT to be included in the PPP program. That reality happened within the last few weeks. It has been a time for tenacity, but it is paying off.
Joining many in our industry, I am abundantly confident that we will note 2021 as the year that started the recovery from the pandemic, and the beginning of better times for our industry.
I wish health, safety, and prosperity to you, your family, and associates in 2021 and beyond.