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San Diego's tourism industry showing signs of coming back to life

San Diego lost an estimated $280 million in economic impact from the cruise industry alone due to the pandemic.

SAN DIEGO — With Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer approaching, San Diego's tourism industry is showing signs of coming back to life. 

Over the course of the pandemic, the region lost tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars ordinarily generated by tourism.  

As part of that revival, over the next couple days, more than 400 cruise ship employees in San Diego are receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine shots.

"We are well on our way to getting back to business," said Adam Deaton of the Port of San Diego. 

"Our hope is for everyone to get vaccinated so that we can cruise together again," added Captain Hank Draper of Holland America. 

These shots are delivered on board by volunteers from Sharp Healthcare.

"We are incredibly excited to help San Diego get back its economy, which certainly has a deep base in tourism," added Sharp COO Brett McClain.

San Diego lost an estimated $280 million in economic impact from the cruise industry due to the pandemic, according to Deaton.

At the height of the COVID crisis, 70,000 jobs in the overall tourism industry county-wide were lost, according to the San Diego Tourism Authority. 

However, San Diego's critical tourism industry is starting to show signs of "getting its groove back" as we look toward the start of summer.

"From a leisure standpoint, I think our hotels will do well this summer," said Julie Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. "They'll continue to do better on the weekends."

Coker added that there will eventually be a revival in business travel as well: from August to December, San Diego will be hosting 20 conventions.

Beginning June 15, large-scale meetings of more than 5,000 can take place, provided attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

"It doesn't limit capacity but obviously common sense should prevail," Coker said.

As more San Diegans get vaccinated, they are ready to travel, too.

Wednesday, Southwest Airlines announced that beginning June 6, it will be expanding its non-stop service to Hawaii. 

"You don't need to go to Hawaii for that, " pointed out Namara Mercer, executive director of the San Diego County Lodging Association. "You can stay here."

Mercer said that she hopes Southern Californians will opt for "stay-cations" this summer.

"If the weather is good, people will come to San Diego from the regions around here, so that is what we are hoping for," she told News 8. 

And local hotels are waiting to welcome them.

In Oceanside, for instance,  two new hotels, the Mission Pacific and the Seabird Resort are opening this month.

"All of the trends are pointing to a really good bounce back this summer," Coker added.

If you are looking for some innovative "stay-cation" ideas in San Diego as we head toward summer, click here. 

WATCH: What the road to recovery for San Diego tourism looks like

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