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COVID-19

Coachella Valley businesses reeling after festival, conferences called off

Benjamin Gottlieb Mar 30, 2020
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In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella
COVID-19

Coachella Valley businesses reeling after festival, conferences called off

Benjamin Gottlieb Mar 30, 2020
In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella
HTML EMBED:
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Around the country, big music and entertainment events have been cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19, including in Southern California’s desert communities.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracts roughly 250,000 attendees and has now been postponed until October.

The decision to move the festival carries a big cost for Vidal Coronel, who owns seven single-family homes in the Coachella Valley and rents them out on platforms like Airbnb. This is usually a big time of year for Coronel with events like Coachella, Stagecoach and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells attracting hundreds of visitors.

“During this time, we can rent them up to $500 to $600 a night,” Coronel said. “Usually it’s about $150 to maybe $200. So there’s a big difference there.” 

But with the tennis tournament called off and the festivals pushed to October, Coronel has seen an unprecedented number of cancellations. 

“I mean, my phone was nonstop for six hours, just cancellations after cancellations. And it was insane.”

The economic impact on the Coachella Valley — and its more than $7 billion tourism industry — will be significant, said Scott White with the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

“Tourism is the number one economy for the Coachella Valley,” White said. “It employs over 60,000 people.”

In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Now, they’re all pulling the plug at once.

“Well, it’s absolutely a huge domino effect,” says Aftab Dada, the general manager of the Hilton Palm Springs. “Currently, the pace of the reservations [being cancelled] is immeasurable.” 

For the time being, Dada says the Hilton will stay open. The hope is that there will be enough for employees to do until these big events return in the fall. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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