MONTEREY — The hospitality and tourism industry, the Monterey Peninsula’s No. 1 economic engine, has high expectations for Classic Car’s multi-day event slate at full throttle starting Friday.
“We are anticipating over 85,000 visitors,” Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Rob O’Keefe said in an email. “In 2019, Car Week generated over $67 million. While international attendance, an important audience as they stay longer and spend more, has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing a larger increase with that audience returning.
Classic Car Week was put on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned last year.
The Monterey County travel industry has made progress in its recovery, although overseas travel and business travel are still not at pre-pandemic levels, but there are signs that the trend is changing.
The Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Information Center tracks where people are coming from when they visit the site and has seen an increase in foreign travelers since February, said Jenny MacMurdo, president and chief executive officer. director of the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve seen a general increase in foreign travelers to our area and expect a lot to happen now that travel bans have mostly been lifted,” MacMurdo said.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that during Classic Car Week 2021, hotel occupancy was down 10% from 2019, but showed signs of ‘catching up’. The office told a Classic Car Week stakeholder roundtable last month that hotels were already seeing event dates booked.
Janine Chicourrat, general manager of the Portola Hotel and Spa adjacent to the Monterey Conference Center, said the hotel had nearly all of its reservations for Classic Car Week since last year and was fully booked at this point.
“We are ready to roll and are looking forward to an incredible year,” said Chicourrat. “This is the single largest revenue week for Monterey County.”
MacMurdo said hotels in Pacific Grove had very few rooms for Classic Car Week. The chamber calls around and maintains an up-to-date list of available rooms and currently there are five rooms to be had.
But not all Classic Car Week visitors are looking for a hotel experience.
“I think there are two types of clients,” said Jan Leisure, chief broker at Monterey Bay Property Management.
One is a hotel guest who is looking for valet parking, room service, housekeeping and other hotel amenities and the other is a vacation rental guest who wants a place to spread out and have the ability to live and cook in a domestic space. , she says.
“There are still very few rentals available,” Leasure said. “There have been a few cancellations and new ones have been added to inventory recently.”
For those looking beyond room service or preparing a meal in a vacation rental kitchen, there are myriad dining choices on the Monterey Peninsula, but the staff has been an issue for some.
“We are complete, I am happy to say. We’ve been like this for a while and we’ve been very lucky,” said Jim Culcasi, owner of Rosine’s restaurant in downtown Monterey.
Culcasi said other restaurants are still struggling to staff for Classic Car Week.
“We’re all in this together,” he said, adding that many restaurants have started paying more in employee salaries.
“They’ve gone up significantly…10-20% depending on the position,” Culcasi said.
This is a result of the shortage of employees and in preparation for the influx of people coming to the Monterey Peninsula, not just during Classic Car Week, but in general.
MacMurdo echoed that sentiment and said some PG restaurants are still having staffing issues.
It’s a situation where everyone is on deck where owners step in to do their part to seat, serve and clean up after their customers, she said.
While people in the hospitality and travel industry are excited about Classic Car Week 2022 and returning visitors, MacMurdo said his biggest concern is managing expectations.
Be nice to the wait staff. Understand that things may take longer. Take care of those who come forward to serve.
“We want the message to be nice during car week,” she said.
The overall economic impact of Classic Car Week is several million dollars each year for local charities. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has raised more than $32 million for charity since its inception in 1950.
But Classic Car Week has a much wider network of events in places like Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Seaside, and Carmel Valley. Classic Car Week features nearly 30 events, including car shows, races, auctions, arts and conferences, culminating in the world-renowned Concours d’Elegance on Sunday August 21 and car enthusiasts , whether they come from outside or from the region. will be able to take advantage of free automotive events throughout the week.
One of the biggest draws this year will be the Rolex Monterey Motorsports meeting at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which serves as the official kickoff to the 100th anniversary celebration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This event is expected to host the largest gathering of overall winners or Le Mans class winners ever in America.
“Ultimately, the greatest beneficiaries of tourism are our residents who benefit from the millions of dollars generated from travel,” O’Keefe said. “We believe that tourism supports the quality of life. And we’re not just interested in promoting tours, we go to great lengths to educate travelers to treat our destination responsibly and respectfully.
O’Keefe said the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau also creates content that caters more to residents than travelers with informational resources such as its Travel Alerts web section that provides a wide range information, including traffic advisories and road closures.
O’Keefe said it’s worth noting that Car Week is actually more than one week that runs from Friday to August 21 this year, but he points out that the Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t suggest no name change.
Visit SeeMonterey.com for event details, including an interactive map, and ways visitors can responsibly experience the Monterey Peninsula.