Anaheim Economic Recovery Plan Rolling: Visit Anaheim Books $500 Million In Convention Biz Since March

The COVID-19 Crisis is a public health crisis unlike anything we’ve experience in our lifetimes. Sheltering at home, social distancing protocols and personal protective equipment are flattening the curve. At the same time, our economy has been hammered.

Cities all over the country are facing massive tax revenue hits as large swaths of the economy have simply shut down. Cities like Anaheim with strong tourist economies have been hit the hardest. Tourism accounts for nearly half of Anaheim’s 170,000 jobs. Half of the city’s tax revenues are generated by the Anaheim Resort – revenue that funds vital public services such as police, fire, parks, libraries and more.

Each month the Resort is shut down, almost 50,000 people aren’t able to work, and the city loses $20 million in tax revenue.

Last month, Mayor Harry Sidhu and the City Council approved a Community and Economic Recovery Plan.

This four-pronged strategy aims to:

  • Connect those residents most in need with assistance in partnership with the Anaheim Community Foundation. To that end, the city council approved $8.5 million in emergency funding.
  • Expand assistance for residents who are struggling with housing costs, assisting the homelessness, and endeavoring to keep the city workforce on the job.
  • Position Anaheim to immediately capture business and market share when the economy – especially the convention and tourism sector – begins to recover as the Resort is re-opened.
  • Encourage Anaheim residents to shop locally and Anaheim businesses to hire locally as our local economy re-opens consistent with public health and safety protocols.

A key component of the Community and Economic Recovery Plan was allocating $6.5 million from the Anaheim Convention Center reserve fund to ensure Visit Anaheim can continue its critical work of bringing conventions and tourism to Anaheim. Obviously, the Resort is currently closed according to state and county public health directives.

At some point, the pandemic-induced shut-down will come to end. Penned-in families and individuals will plan much-needed vacations. Conventions will book locations – and in fact, that is already happening. They will have a wide range of options from which to choose. We want them to choose the Anaheim Resort. It won’t just happen, like flipping a light switch, on its own. It’s important to the get a jump on other destinations now to grab that business for Anaheim and expand market share.

That’s what Visit Anaheim has been doing. Visit Anaheim responded to the economic shutdown by dramatically reducing staff and compensation. Nearly 60% of its staff – including much of the senior staff – has been either furloughed or laid off, and a hiring freeze instituted. The remaining staff has taken a 25% pay cut, while the senior leadership has reduced their own pay by 50%. This blog is not aware of any government agency that has effectively reduced payroll by 80%.

Nonetheless, this core remaining staff – an economic recovery team – has been making impressive strides implementing their part of the economic recovery plan.  In just the past couple of weeks, Visit Anaheim has already booked eight new Convention Center bookings and re-booked two cancellations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

These bookings alone represent more than 200,000 visitors to Anaheim, generating nearly $500 million in local spending in hotels, restaurants and other businesses. That translates into desperately needed jobs and $9.2 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue for the city. That is a significant return on the $6.5 million the city invested to keep Visit Anaheim at work – and in less than a month.

In addition, Visit Anaheim is actively tracking down and pursuing multiple leads valued at nearly $60 million. Clearly, Visit Anaheim’s ability to continue marketing the Resort and booking business is critical to the Anaheim economy’s ability to bounce back as quickly as possible.

Visit Anaheim is also working with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and the local business community drive customers to Anaheim restaurants and businesses that are open on a retail-to-go basis, to help local businesses – and the jobs they support – stay in business.

The city has a full plate during this unprecedented calamity. Mayor Harry Sidhu and the city council are facing the worst crisis to his Anaheim in almost a century. They have laid out a strategy: protecting public health; getting assistance to the neediest residents; maintaining vital public services; and planning for economic recovery.

It has been less than a month since the council approved Mayor Sidhu’s plan, and it is already yielding concrete progress toward getting the city’s economy back on its feet. The course and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is largely out of the control of any local government. But each has a role to play, and Mayor Sidhu and the council majority are making positive, deliberate strides towards ensuring the city emerges in the strongest possible position when the time is right to safely re-open the economy.


  1. Marketing for Disneyland not only helps the theme parent if but when it opens. The advertising will benefit not only the theme parks, but all businesses within the Anaheim District Resort. We also need to keep in mind that since Disneyland is the biggest consumer of City of Anaheim Electric Utilities, it subsidizes Anaheim residents’ electric bill. In addition, Disneyland is in my view the biggest employer of Orange County. Let’s keep our focus in helping Disneyland Resort District and all its surrounding businesses, for the benefit of its residents. Kudos to Mayor Sidhu and the council members to continually see the big picture.

  2. Bravo Mayor Sindhu and the City Council Majority for always seeing the big picture. Even when facing this huge crises they have laid out a positive strategy which is yielding success. Once again Mayor Sidhu’s leadership and vision truly reflects the love he has for the City he serves. I appreciate this and the fact that Visit Anaheim took immediate action and has already booked conferences that will have millions visiting the Anaheim Resorts and how the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce are helping the local business and restaurants holding steady. We need to do our part by supporting these businesses as we try to reopen the City. Good thought and best wishes all, we will make it together.

  3. Thank you Mayor Sidhu!

    When this is over, and it will end, we will know you did everything possible to plan for our recovery. Anaheim thanks you!

  4. Sergio E Gonzalez

    In my opinion, and in this case, it is the role of government to assist commerce to get back on it’s feet since it was this same govt. (municipal, state, federal) that caused commerce to collapse. The businesses are not at fault for having to lay off, furlough or terminate employees or shut down. The quicker Anaheim commerce recovers the better it will be for: owners, employees, vendors, customers, residents and the community. It makes economic sense to get the largest employers up and operating first in Anaheim since tourism is a major driving force of our economy.The Disney Resort, Honda Center, Garden Walk, Angel Stadium, Convention Center etc. also have the greatest numbers of employees so again it makes sense to get thousands of people back to work as opposed to just a few. Get the tourist back into Anaheim. The ripple effect will then help everyone including the smaller businesses. Groups or individuals that are opposed to getting Anaheim up and running, or they are on a “Social Justice” agenda, are not working for what is best for the citizens of Anaheim Thank you to Mayor Sidhu and Council for your proactive, pro Anaheim response with this recovery effort.

  5. The pandemic is hurting Anaheim and many other cities. We’re lucky to have a Mayor and city council members (most of them, at least!) focused on our well being and getting people BACK TO WORK so we can take care of our families.

  6. Many thanks to our great leadership from our City Council and our Mayor! This is great. We need this kind of plan to move the city forward. Glad to know Visit Anaheim has been hard at work booking conventions and ensuring business keeps coming to Anaheim. This won’t happen by itself.

  7. Leadership can be a thankless task, especially in a time of upheaval and uncertainty. The pandemic has hit Anaheim particularly hard, and personally, I’m glad the city is being led by a Mayor and Council majority that is more concerned with keep people safe and finding ways to revive Anaheim’s economy as soon as possible – instead of playing the blame game.

  8. We have two kinds of councilmembers here in Anaheim. We have people like Mayor Sidhu, and Councilmembers Steve Faessel, Lucille Kring, Jordan Brandman and Trevor O’Neil who come together, work together, compromise when necessary and try to move the city in a positive direction. And we have the other two who complain, throw bombs and try to tear down what has made Anaheim a great city. I’m behind Mayor Sidhu and the council majority 100%.

    • I think that it is a good thing that we have, at least, two kinds of councilmembers. Maybe more than two would even be better. But having council members who cannot communicate with one another, or council members who operate or communicate in the shadows isn’t exactly healthy, maybe illegal and certainly not a confidence builder in their leadership abilities. As long as the “majority” is doing what we think is to our benefit, everything is seemingly okay. This doesn’t mean that the “minority” shouldn’t ask those difficult questions therefore being accused of complaining, throwing bombs and tearing apart a great Anaheim City.

  9. I am thankful for our Mayor and some of our city councilmember (Faessel, Kring, Brandman and O’ Neil) for knowing we need to get Anaheim moving forward and bring business back! I live and work in this town and I need for Anaheim to succeed so I can take care of my family. Thank you Mr. Mayor and Councilmembers for caring about my family, me and the City of Anaheim.

  10. Why are people upset by this?! We need to get this city moving! At least the mayor and some of the council understands that bringing revenue back to the city will help us all that live here!

  11. I fully support the mayor and the diligent work he is doing in these unprecedented times that no mayor has ever had to navigate through!

  12. Mayor Sidhu is exactly the enterprising business man that we need during these unprecedented times. We need the revenue that our Resort provides to the thousands and thousands that are dependent on our tourism/service industry! The shut down of Disneyland and the Convention Center is such a devastating blow to our City – and the recovery is going to be arduous.

    Our Mayor will need everybody’s help and support – enough with the naysayers and negativity!

    We are so thankful to have Mayor Sidhu at the helm!

  13. It’s easy to take Visit Anaheim for granted. Year in an year out, those folks are working to bring hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business into Anaheim. I love our city government, but they aren’t the ones generating business and tax revenues. Kudos to Mayor Sidhu and the Council Majority for having the foresight provide bridge funding to keep Visit Anaheim working for us through this pandemic.

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