South Bay hospitality business bounces back big from pandemic – CBS San Francisco

SAN JOSE — The travel industry across the Bay Area was hit hard by the pandemic, but South Bay businesses are showing evidence that the leisure and hospitality sector are on the rebound.

The cute costumes and colorful people of the Crunchyroll Expo — a three-day celebration of anime — have returned to San Jose after a more than two-year absence.

Crunchyroll Expo in San Jose
Crunchyroll Expo in San Jose. CBS

“It’s definitely incredible and fun to be able to come back to conventions. I’ve certainly missed it with all of the COVID and everything,” said Levi Lind, who is attending the convention and lives in San Francisco.

For San Jose and the tens of thousands of people whose jobs depend on the leisure and hospitality industry, it’s money in the bank. 

“The event is sold out. Crunchyroll told me they had to release a bunch of wait list tickets, so it’s as popular as ever,” said Frances Wong of Team San Jose.  “That means all the local hotels are selling out to accommodate all these fans coming from around the country.”

The hotel business was hit hard by the pandemic, but hotel pools and lobbies are filling up again.

“We’re starting to see that growth.  It’s very encouraging with the business travel heating up in San Jose, and the leisure travel in Santana Row,” said Christine Davidson of the Hotel Valencia.

Staffing levels here are still down about 15 percent from pre-pandemic levels, but it’s growing thanks to families like the Rutlands from New Mexico.

The family is having its first out of state vacation in years. They’re visiting San Jose, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

“Being able to support all these local businesses and people who we have come to know, it’s nice,” said Cory Rutland.

Travelers are experiencing higher prices for rooms, food and transportation, but it’s a price many are now willing to pay in order to enjoy activities together.

“Yeah, the bustling atmosphere of this is my favorite part of the whole thing,” said convention visitor Adriana Zamora.