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California tourism industry pleads to lawmakers for new re-opening plan

In an assembly meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday, tourism & hospitality representatives from across the state pleaded to lawmakers for a modified re-opening plan.
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White Bus driving along the asphalt road in a rural landscape at sunset.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If a tour bus isn’t on the road it’s bleeding money, and in the parking lot of northern California’s largest motor coach company the debt wounds are deep, according to Amador Stage Lines Operations Manager Lisa Allen.

“We had $152,000 in fees last year and we have not moved at all,” Allen told ABC10.

Those fees are Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) licensing fees, and yes, parked or not the state still wants its money. Prior to the pandemic, Amador Stage Lines would be running 90 different contracted routes on a daily basis -- routes that would have paid for DMV fees and driver payroll.

The California motorcoach industry is the unsung hero in day-to-day tourism, taking students, vacationers, and retirees to museums, sporting events, and theme parks.

“If we stay like this all that business will go to other states,” Allen said.

The problem Amador Stage Lines is facing is essentially a result of a trickle-down effect when larger California theme parks and attractions were closed.

In an assembly meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday, tourism and hospitality representatives from across the state pleaded to lawmakers that they need a modified safe, and responsible re-opening plan, fast.

One of the most outspoken was Erin Guerrero with California Attractions and Parks Association.

“Waiting till California COVID-safety tier four to re-open parks will decimate the industry. I cannot state that any more clearly,” Guerrero said.

The tourism industry’s concerns may be valid. Data provided by Visit California shows that 4 out of 10 jobs in California are linked in some way to tourism, according to Visit California’s President, Caroline Beteta.

“Right now, tourism spending has declined by more than 54% since 2019. We will not get back to those 2019 numbers for five years, or 2024,” Beteta said.

Meetings and conventions alone bring in close to $65 million to the state. Visit California fears that money may be lost because the state is not modifying pandemic guidelines like the rest of the nation.

“California is the only state that is not allowing meetings or group gatherings,” Beteta said.

New COVID-19 safety protocols have been implemented in other theme parks and hotels outside California and members of the industry are hoping assembly members can work with the governor to adopt or modify current guidelines.

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