West Coast
Two weeks before the state ban on leisure travel was lifted, visitors strolled along Fisherman’s Wharf on May 30, the day Monterey County’s request for a variance was approved by state health officials, allowing restaurants to open for dine-in service that night. The wharf was getting tourists for weeks leading up to the new rules, even though restaurants were takeout-only, access to retail was limited and whale-watching tours were off.

CA - The Monterey County tourism industry charts a new course through a pandemic.

They begin showing up at 6am to board fishing charter boats, followed by the next wave of people embarking on whale watching tours, then breakfast diners followed throughout the day by window shoppers, sightseers and more diners who stream through until the wharf closes at midnight.

It’s made the 175-year-old wharf the number-one attraction on the Monterey Peninsula with an estimated 3.9 million visitors, more than double the number of visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which averages 1.8 million annually.

Then came Covid-19.

The day after Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno announced the county’s first shelter-in-place order on March 17, wharf businesses shut their doors and boats remained docked. The flow of visitors came to a stop.

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