This pandemic has claimed plenty of victims – among them, the Lake Havasu City economy. Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order had devastating effects on local businesses just as spring break was getting started and the Easter season was on its way. Small retailers and restaurateurs who couldn’t easily adapt to take-out requirements were hit hard.
The coronavirus created the perfect economic storm for Lake Havasu City and Mohave County, particularly in the hospitality industry. Things got bad quickly, during what is normally one of the most lucrative times of year for Havasu businesses. Many rely on spring and summer tourism dollars to sustain them throughout the rest of the year. Our winter visitors went home early. Our spring breakers never came. The damage to the local economy was evident early on, so a report that Mohave County led the state in unemployment change in May comes as no surprise. The department reported last month that Mohave County saw its unemployment rate drop a couple full percentage points faster than the rest of the state.
The latest developments in the coronavirus crisis will no doubt make things worse for the local economy. Businesses will need to continue to rely on support from federal assistance like the paycheck protection program until they’re able to reopen with any kind of certainty.
One suggestion by Arizona Sen. Martha McSally could provide a direct injection of cash to tourism communities like Lake Havasu City. She introduced legislation last week that would provide tax credits to Americans who spend money on tourism-related expenses, including lodging and entertainment. McSally points out that travel and tourism in Arizona accounts for more than $3 billion in tax receipts and employs more than 180,000 people. Because of the economic downturn, Arizona’s hospitality unemployment rate is around 35 percent.
McSally’s bill has kinks that’ll need to be ironed out to be sure, but this is an industry in bad need of help, and that’s scary news for Havasu, where a majority of residents have jobs that are connected to hospitality. A targeted stimulus may be just what the doctor ordered, and we hope McSally’s efforts gain traction.
Besides providing some much-needed assistance, her bill also offers a pretty good incentive for all of us to take a vacation as soon as it’s safe to do so. After all, with all this social distancing, quarantining and negativity, who couldn’t use the break?
— Today’s News-Herald