Tourism picks up in downtown Palm Springs, expected to increase in Orange Tier

Tourism picks up in downtown Palm Springs, expected to increase in Orange Tier

Olivia Sandusky

Packs of tourists are visiting downtown Palm Springs this week.

Many have traveled from all over the country to enjoy the last few weeks of season, and the final holiday week before summer.

For some, a day in the sunshine was therapeutic.

“Just being out in nature and around people, it’s been really life giving,” said Dancin Morgan, from Chino. 

Some visitors were just enjoying being in the presence of others for the first time in a while.

“It was really good to be out and to be out with other people and dining,” said Dee Bjorklund, from the Bay area.  

The bustling downtown scene is a stark contrast to this time one year ago.

Back then, streets were empty and restaurants like Lulu California Bistro were shuttered.

But on Wednesday, their patio was full, making the general manager emotional.

“It’s really great to get some sense of normalcy, it really is. It’s overwhelming to the point where it almost brings tears to my eyes,” said Gabe Terrado, general manager of Lulu California Bistro.

As customers return, Terrado says he has been able to bring his entire staff back.

And now that the county is preparing to potentially move to the orange reopening tier next week, he believes it should help business even more.

“I think we’re going to see a summer we’ve never seen. There’s been a lot of folks that have been quarantined that want to get out. The phone is ringing non stop. People asking about where we’re at,” said Terrado. 

The Palm Springs Bureau of tourism says in January, the city’s tax on hotel guests and vacation rentals was down 65 percent from 2020.

But they expect that number to improve as restrictions loosen and more guests continue to visit.

“It was very busy but also very well done as far as social distancing and that sort of thing. It felt really busy and really packed, but also we felt totally safe,” said Bjorklund.

A decision on the orange tier could arrive next Tuesday. If approved, restaurants could resume indoor dining at 50 percent capacity.

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