LOS ANGELES, CA — After Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Regional Stay-At-Home order was lifted, Catalina Island tourism officials announced they will begin welcoming leisure travelers again. The order’s termination has allowed swaths of businesses to reopen on the island after weeks of closure.
The island, which is located 22 miles off Southern California’s coast, has long been a staple for Southlander’s looking for a quick escape. But after coronavirus related shutdown orders effectively deterred many Angelenos from making travel plans, the island’s tourism-driven economy took a hit.
In pre-pandemic times, cruise ships used to drop off as many as 2,000 visitors a week while Catalina ferries brought thousands each day, USA Today reported. Many of those visitors were from Los Angeles.
But last spring, most of that tourism went by the wayside.
Avalon, a city on the island that is part of Los Angeles County, closed its port temporarily last spring. The closure of that port cost the harbor at least $2 million in business, Avalon Mayor Ann Marshall told USA Today.
Love Catalina, the island’s official tourism authority, which has been around since 1949, is looking to restore a bit of that bustle to the island.
“The ability to safely welcome leisure travelers back and resume overnight accommodations, outdoor tours, activities, dining, and more, is not only a promising sign for the future of travel, but will also be a vital lifeline for saving so many of the businesses and jobs on our small island that relies on tourism,” said the authority’s president and CEO Jim Luttjohann in a statement.
The island’s hospitality industry has reopened for tourists in time for President’s Day, Valentine’s Day and spring break.
And when health orders shuttered many businesses, it also prompted transportation agencies to reduce options to get to the island.
The Catalina Express, which had reduced operations amid the sweeping health order, has restored its passenger service from Long Beach to Avalon; weekend service from Data Point to Avalon; and weekend service from San Pedro to both Two Harbors and Avalon.
The Catalina Flyer out of Newport Beach will also resume operations Feb. 26 and IEX Helicopters is currently operating on “demand daily” flights to the island.
On Catalina, the island’s conservancy has resumed limited services of the Wildlands Express shuttle, which offers transportation to and from the Trailhead visitor’s center in Avalon to the Airport in the Sky and Catalina’s backcountry trails. Reservations can be made here.
Hotels, restaurants and retail sectors have reopened in accordance with local health orders. Campgrounds will fully reopen Feb. 12.
Love Catalina officials have compiled a list of businesses and services that have reopened. The list, which is updated in real-time, can be found here.