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Capitola’s tourism-reliant economy is on the path to recovery

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CAPITOLA, Calif. (KION) Capitola's tourism has been impacted heavily by the pandemic but the beach town is expected to head towards recovery in the upcoming months.

Capitola, a town famous for its sandy beaches, boardwalk and quaint feel attracts thousands of visitors each yea,r which in turn streams millions of dollars into the city. This stopped abruptly at the beginning of the pandemic, businesses and the usually bustling beach town were essentially in a state of limbo in 2020.

One local business owner recalls how the area looked like at the beginning of the pandemic.

"It was like a ghost town. There were hardly any customers when we could reopen, so yeah, it was a very strange feeling in the village," said Stacy Branson, owner of Sea Level, a store that sells Capitola-themed apparel.

The mayor of Capitola, Yvette Brooks, says around 70% to 80% of their sales tax revenue comes from visitors, a hefty chunk for the city hit with the closures, but with the upcoming summer months and the scheduled reopening of California in June, the mayor feels optimistic.

“We're seeing a lot more visitors in our community, people shopping, people walking down the street. It's looking like there's a lot more to be seen and done here coming up in the next few months," said Brooks.

Last year, the city manager says the city adopted a budget with a 23% revenue reduction or a $4.5 million loss.

"The good news was that we came out of the pandemic more quickly and much more strongly than we initially thought," said Jamie Goldstein.

Although California is planning to fully reopen by June, the mayor is still practicing caution.

"We're planning on doing some events, but we're still being a bit cautious," said Brooks.

For now, the city is supporting its businesses through state and federal funding and through various programs like their outdoor dining expansion.

For access and information to local businesses in Capitola, click here.

If you would like to find a local business to support or list your business, check out 831 Local Links here.


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Stephanie Aceves

Stephanie Aceves is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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