Even before the state issued its shelter-in-place orders in mid-March, tourism on the Coastside came to a screeching halt. Access to beaches closed, restaurants offered limited options for takeout, and events were called off.
After months of a severe decline in business, some Coastside hotels are now noting an uptick in online searches giving hope that locally the industry may recover sooner rather than later.
Beach House General Manager Dana Dahl said it wasn’t until last month that she started to see a demand from people calling to ask if they were open and about booking a stay.
“I now have to have full staff here just to manage the phones,” she said.
She said that according to her hotel’s website analytics, views have gone up by 154 percent compared to the same time last year.
Dahl also is chair of the Half Moon Bay Business Improvement District, which was created about 16 years ago to allow hotels on the Coastside to jointly market programs to increase overnight lodging in the area.
With airlines reporting dramatic declines in trips, Dahl is hopeful this summer people will want to vacation closer to home.
“As a community we need to capitalize on that leisure business,” she said. “We are going to have competitors, such as Monterey, Napa and Carmel. We need to find a way to get our market share.”
Statewide, tourism-based organizations are also trying to create opportunities to market towns in California as drive to destinations.
Dahl said she thinks the hotels that can adapt and market leisure travel over corporate retreats will rebound the fastest. Also, hotels with ample outdoor space for dining will have better options as the state begins to reopen under new protocols.
Under the current health order, traveling for nonessential business is still prohibited. It’s unclear when orders will be lifted to allow people to stay at hotels for vacations.
If hotels are able to recover some losses later this year it will assist the city of Half Moon Bay’s budget which took a hit from a shortfall in transient occupancy tax.
But not every hotel owner is as optimistic. Half Moon Bay Inn owner and manager Jamie Barber said she’s still getting calls about cancellations.
“Everything is closed, so why come?” she said.
Since March, Barber has only had a few guests at the inn, some of which turned into long-term stays because of health or personal reasons. With major festivities, such as graduations, weddings and now the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival canceled or modified, Barber said, “nobody is breaking down the doors looking to stay.”
“It’s been devastating for business,” she said.