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Frustrated tourism officials push Newsom for guidelines on meetings, conventions

The pandemic has been abysmal for the business travel industry, including group meetings and conventions here in the valley.

Thursday, frustrated tourism officials and business leaders from across California banded together to urge Gov. Newsom to issue guidelines for the safe re-opening of business meetings, events and conventions.

"We've lost 241 conventions so far to date, which represents about $138 million for the local economy," said Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

White is one of the more than 100 tourism and labor groups that signed a letter to Newsom calling for immediate action. He said some states have carried on with group business, including Arizona, Florida, Texas and Nevada.

But because California has not issued any guidance, White said, it's costing future bookings.

"It's an industry where you can meet safely, if you think about it, because these are professional meetings in a ballroom, in a meeting facility at the hotel," White said. "We know that we can socially distance them, control the flow, control whether people are wearing masks or not."

In 2019, business groups brought about 5.6 million visitors to the valley. In 2020, the pandemic took a toll that has far reaching effects. "Easily $4.2 billion lost to the economy and 30,000 jobs gone," White said.

He said they're not pushing to hold any meetings just yet, but they need state guidance to book meetings looking to the future.

"Right now we have groups that are canceling in October or November, which in all likelihood everything should be in a really good place where we can have a meeting for 100 people," White said. "So the state of California and our cities are going to miss out on very, very valuable tax revenues, jobs, at a time when we cant afford to lose any more of that."

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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