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Hotel business tourism continues to struggle after COVID-19 pandemic

While this new national report finds that hotel business tourism is forecast to be down in San Diego this year, leisure tourism is still strong here.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A new nationwide study finds that the COVID-19 pandemic is still pummeling San Diego's hotel industry, specifically when it comes to business tourism. 

This report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association projects revenue to be down more than 75% in this area. 

While this new national report finds that hotel business tourism is forecast to be down here in San Diego and across the country this year compared to 2019, other studies show that when it comes to leisure tourism, San Diego is doing better than expected. 

"It is on and off...hit or miss," said Elias Maroki, manager of Gaslamp BBQ on Island Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, "But business slowly but surely is coming back."

Maroki said that while business tourists are beginning to come back, it is not the same as pre-pandemic levels.

"Tourism is there, but it's not as much as 2019," he added. 

A new report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association bears that assessment out.

It finds that most business travelers are either canceling or postponing trips due to continuing concerns over COVID-19, forecasting that San Diego's hotel business travel revenue will be down 75% this year compared to 2019.

According to the study, that's an estimated loss of $1.2 billion in business travel revenue in San Diego.

Statewide, that loss for California hotels is estimated to be $9.8 billion while nationwide, hotels are projected to be down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue, compared to 2019. This projection comes after hotels across the country lost $49 billion last year.

While hotel business travel revenue is projected to decline this year, San Diego is still among the top three tourist destinations nationwide for leisure travel, according to the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, ranking first in the western region.

"I definitely think it's going back to normal," said tourist Crystal Dusinski. 

She and her husband Jason are visiting San Diego for both business and pleasure this weekend. For them, traveling feels safe, from the airport to their hotel's COVID protocols.

"Extra cleaning...you can really smell the Lysol," Jason said, "Really spraying everything down."

"I think everybody is doing their part to make sure that everybody is comfortable," Crystal added. 

Businesses like Gaslamp BBQ are hoping that translates into even better business next year. 

Elias Maroki says that he is optimistic.

"If it's not 100%, but we should be close to 80 or 90%," Maroki told News 8. 

This new national report also forecasts that business travel overall is not expected to reach pre-pandemic level until 2024. 

WATCH RELATED: Family of city employees rally against San Diego’s vaccine mandate (October 2021)

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