With California’s economy set to reopen, Newsom unveils new vaccine incentive to aid travel and tourism industry

Coronavirus

With the pandemic waning, travel is picking back up again as Californians don’t plan on losing another summer to COVID-19.

For those hankering for a change of scene after being homebound by coronavirus restrictions for more than a year, the state’s official reopening on Tuesday is the light at the end of a long tunnel. And those eager to take advantage of easing travel restrictions will have help this summer in the form of incentives from the state, which is hoping to entice more people to get the vaccine and also jump-start its beleaguered tourism and travel industry.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new vaccine incentive, called “California Dream Vacations,” as part of the “Vax for the Win” program that includes cash prizes for residents who get the potentially life-saving jab.

The new incentive will give away travel packages for vacation destinations in the state.

On July 1, Californians aged 18 and older who are at least partially vaccinated will have the chance to win in a randomized drawing for one of  six “dream vacation” packages within the state of California. 

Winners will have a chance to visit “California’s gateway destination cities,” such as Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, and the Ritz Carlton in Palm Springs. Additionally, Newsom said that winners will receive an additional $2,000 to offset travel costs and will have some meals covered through a variety of “culinary experiences.”

“From California’s coastlines to our theme parks to our breathtaking national forests, our state’s diverse terrain and unique communities make us the envy of the world when it comes to tourism,” Newsom said.

The six trip packages include: 

  • Discover the Best of Anaheim package for four
  • Greater Palm Spring Luxury package for two
  • Premium Los Angeles Experience for four
  • San Diego Beach Dream Vacation for four 
  • San Diego Downtown Dream Vacation for four
  • San Francisco “Our Gate Is Open” Welcome Package for four

Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, said the travel packages “are just a sample of the endless variety of experiences California has to offer.”

“One of the key issues for us to get California back on track and shorten this recovery curve is to encourage Californians to travel in California,” Beteta said. “It’s like a modern-day act of patriotism.”

State officials said California’s hospitality and tourism industries lost nearly half the 1.2 million jobs during the height of the pandemic.

In an effort to jump-start the state’s tourism and travel economy, Newsom also proposed $95 million in aid to potentially recover over 300,000 jobs within a year.

“The travel industry has continued to step up throughout the pandemic, providing shelter for front-line workers and people experiencing homelessness,” Beteta added. “After all our state has been through, it is heartwarming to see them giving back again.”

Meanwhile, the state has seen a 13.8% increase week over week in administered doses since launching its “Vax for the Win” vaccine incentive program, which is touted as the biggest in the country. So far, the program has doled out $50,000 to 30 winners. On Tuesday, 10 partially vaccinated Californians will be eligible to split a $15 million grand prize. 

More information on the “California Dream Vacations” packages and other incentives can be found at the state’s “Vax for the Win” website.

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