Tourism took a hit during the pandemic, especially those cities that rely on tourism to keep their economic engines running.
One of those cities is Newport Beach, which normally hosts millions of visitors every year who flock to the city to enjoy the “aspirational lifestyle” which includes our magnificent harbor and beaches, upscale and boutique shopping, and world-class restaurants.
Tourism all but ceased, and the local economy sputtered along until things finally changed course and covid restrictions eased. Now, things are looking much better, and predictions for a robust 2022 were heard loud and clear during the annual Marketing Outlook Reception & Tourism Awards Ceremony, hosted by Newport Beach & Company – the city’s marketing arm – on November 4 at Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel.
The event celebrated substantial strides and efforts the destination has made this past year to support, enhance and even grow tourism to the destination during a challenging backdrop that included covid-19, demonstrations and even an oil spill.
According to Newport Beach & Co., the event brings together travel and tourism professionals, destination partners, and community members to celebrate the past year’s successes as well as look at initiatives to market the luxury leisure and meetings destination in the year ahead.
Newport Beach & Company President & CEO Gary C. Sherwin, APR, CDME, and Board Chair Debbie Snavely, spoke about the pandemic, last year’s protests and the recent oil spill as three major health, economic and environmental incidents that disproportionately impacted the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries in Newport Beach.
“We are proud of the City of Newport Beach and the incredible community leaders who have come to the destination’s rescue during these unprecedented times that none of us could have expected or predicted,” stated Sherwin when he welcomed everyone to the event. “We look back over the past two years and are extremely grateful for the hard work and efforts of so many that have helped bring us to the place we are at today: stronger and hopeful for a promising 2022.”
The annual event serves to recognize outstanding community members for their dedication to Newport Beach and its guests. For their commitment and leadership during the pandemic, Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis and Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles were honored with the prestigious Dennis O’Neil Partner in Progress Award.
Javier Torres of Newport Beach Marriott Bayview received the Rosalind Williams Service Excellence Award for his unwavering devotion to customer service, elevating the experience for locals and visitors alike.
Henry Pyle, founder and operating partner at Chartwell Real Estate Development, and the Pyle Family were recognized with the Local Tourism Hero Award, as result of their incredible philanthropic donations to local restaurant workers during the pandemic, and their dedication to preserving and revitalizing the Balboa Fun Zone.
According to Sherwin, who introduced the Pyle family, the Pyles purchased $1.7 million worth of gift cards in $1,000 increments and gave them to displaced local restaurant workers who were in dire need of assistance.
“Our family is honored to accept this award,” said Henry Pyle, who was there with his sister Annie and father David. “We are excited to have the opportunity to put the fun back in the Fun Zone. There is so much untapped potential there. It needs a little love and TLC.”
David Pyle noted that he wanted to lead by example and “lend a helping hand to those most affected in the community. I have been running around Balboa Island since 1959. This city has given me more in my life than I could ever give back. It changed the course of my family forever. I love Newport Beach. When our restaurants got knocked down, we handed out gift certificates. I got a chance to talk to the restaurant workers, and told them they were missed, their patrons missed them. them, I told them how much we all love them.”
Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery addressed attendees and thanked his colleagues on the city council and other city workers because “it takes a team to make it happen. That’s the culture of Newport Beach. It’s about caring.”
Mayor Avery noted that “tourism brings vibrancy to this town, you can feel it pulsing, and so much of the success is due to Gary Sherwin and his team. Tourism is a gateway to our great city. The Newport Beach tourism industry supports 15,000 jobs, generates $43 million a year in taxes paid by visitors, and contributes $7.4 billion to the local economy each year.”
Fortunately, predicted Newport Beach & Co. board chair Debbie Snavely of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa in Newport Center, that’s all going to come roaring back in 2022.
“Where are we going as a tourism industry in Newport Beach? As we emerge from this pandemic, we are going to be a very different destination,” said Snavely. “As you all know, my hotel is undergoing a complete reimagining that will be transformational in scope, and will bring an entirely new super luxury product to our city. It will be something you have never seen before, and will create a magnificent new experience. They have gone all out, it’s nothing short of game changing.”
Snavely said the Irvine Company will make an announcement soon about the new owners of the Fashion Island Hotel, and added that a new four-story Restoration Hardware is coming to Fashion Island.
“We have always been an aspirational destination,” said Snavely. “We are going to bring a more sophisticated and discerning clientele, more international visitors, with more disposable income. This will require a fundamental repositioning of our tourism community as well as the ability to cater to a clientele that is more demanding and seeks only the finest dining and retail experiences. As we come out of the pandemic we will change as a tourism community and we will become the ultimate premium quality hospitality community in the world. We will compete side by side with the finest global destinations attracting the most discerning visitors. Newport Beach & Co. will be leading us through this epic community-wide transformation in our tourism industry. Buckle up folks, this is going to be a great ride for all of us.”
Additionally, Newport Beach & Company received prestigious awards this year, showcasing the city’s dedication to continuing to create compelling, creative work to grow tourism amidst the pandemic.
The ﬁrst recognition was three 2021 Silver Telly Awards for Travel/Tourism: A Summer Tradition, Food & Beverage: Newport Beach Restaurant Month and Travel & Tourism Stay & Play: Lido House. These awards celebrate the reemergence of the industry that has resurfaced to a transformed world, equipped with new tools and a new point of view.
Newport Beach & Company was also acknowledged as a 2021 PRSA Silver Anvil Finalist for the ﬁrst-ever Newport Beach Restaurant Month in 2020 that helped to drive revenue and support local restaurants and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
For more information on Newport Beach & Company, please visit newportbeachandco.com.
Founded in January 2013, Newport Beach & Company is a non-proﬁt organization established to serve as the official marketing agency for the city of Newport Beach. The agency brings together all of the marketing entities connected to the Newport Beach brand, and is designed to oversee separate business units that include Visit Newport Beach, Celebrate Newport Beach, Enterprise Newport Beach and Newport Beach TV. For more information, please go to www.VisitNewportBeach.com.