Few sectors have been as hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants and bars. Lockdowns and social distancing guidelines have taken their toll – causing nearly 16,000 restaurants across the country to close permanently according to the most recent Yelp Economic Average Report, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association predicting a historic wave of hotel foreclosures.

As part of an effort to revitalize its travel industry and the city’s economy in general, Los Angeles Tourism has launched its first-ever marketing campaign specifically targeting locals. Participating in the initiative, which is dubbed “LA ♥,” over 100 hospitality businesses throughout the city will offer Angelenos special staycation offers and discounts now through the end of the year.

From L.A. With Love

With entry restrictions and border closures affecting not only international travel, but even trips between some states, many cities across the country are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. That’s especially true in Los Angeles, which is one of the busiest destinations in the U.S., and welcomed over 50 million visitors last year. Now that certain lockdowns are easing and the normally peak summer travel season draws to a close, L.A.’s tourism agency is hoping that pent-up demand from a summer stuck at home will have residents booking staycations to support local businesses. That’s all the more urgent since the California Employment Development Department reported a 30{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} decline – nearly 166,000 jobs – in the leisure and hospitality sector between July 2019 and July 2020.

“We know the pandemic has profoundly affected everyone in our community, and we are appealing to those Angelenos who have the means to help put their neighbors, friends and family members back to work and lift up L.A. – while safely enjoying a staycation in the process,” said Adam Burke, President & CEO for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. “While following proper precautions, this is the time to start making plans to support the restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, take that walking tour or relax at an L.A. hotel, and become a tourist in your own backyard.”

Among the special offers being extended as part of the campaign are discounts, on-property credits and unique packages to entice L.A. inhabitants to book a stay that might be within walking distance of their own front door. Now through December 30, for example, the swanky Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles is offering up to 35{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} off three-night stays including daily coffee and pastries from its Lobby Coffee Bar. The Dream Hollywood Hotel, which has one of L.A.’s poshest rooftop pools, has posted a package that includes a daily $100 food and beverage credit to use at its upscale venues including TAO, Beauty & Essex and the Highlight Room. Want to keep the savings simple? Just book a stay with the third night free at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. It doesn’t get easier than that.

But the initiative is not just limited to hotels and restaurants. Retail outlets and activity outfitters are getting in on the action, too. Folks can qualify for a $25 gift card and free parking at the Beverly Center. Various bike and walking tour companies are posting discounts, and drivers who feel the need for speed after being cooped up at home can even score 20{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} off 90-minute drive sessions at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles. Each participating business has also listed its safety protocols to set travelers’ minds at ease.

First COVID Restaurant Week

In tandem with the tourism initiative, Los Angeles is launching the country’s first COVID-era restaurant week, with many participating eateries offering special menus via takeout and delivery for the first time, in addition to a new focus on outdoor dining spaces and experiences. The promotion will run through September 18 and comprises nearly 300 restaurants in all. Most of the prix-fixe menus will range from $15-$35 for lunch and $25-$65 for dinner, though given the unusual nature of this year’s event, there might be some variable pricing.

Diners can view the menus and pricing online, and book reservations through a partnership with OpenTable, though orders for takeout and delivery from those restaurants offering them can be placed directly with each establishment. Among the standouts offering dine-in service thanks to expansive open-air patios are Downtown Italian standbys Brera and Rossoblu, while old favorites like a.o.c. and Jar will add the opportunity to request takeout.

There are also some special options such Severance Wine Bar’s pick-up picnic baskets with cheese, charcuterie and fixings for lunch, and fondue kits for dinner, packed with Emmentaler and Gruyere cheeses, baguettes, fingerling potatoes and assorted veggies.

While not exactly a return to normal, the expanded options for enjoying some of L.A.’s varied and unique cuisines either alfresco or from the comfort of their own homes should tempt folks to venture out or order in as a way of supporting local restaurants.

Much of the travel and hospitality industry, both within the U.S. and abroad, is still struggling to cope with an unprecedented fall in demand due to COVID. With a new focus on drumming up local trade, hopefully tourism boards like L.A.’s can help hard-hit businesses get back on their feet, or at least persevere until customers are willing and able to venture out once more.

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