Helms also said the shortage of rental cars could have complemented the success of his business, as visitors’ interest in exploring travel options beyond picking up a rental car in a airport might have increased.
Tab Borge, owner of Classic Convertible Wine Tours, said his business – which offers cars and tours which he says typically cost twice the hourly amount of other vehicles – has also experienced a business boom as COVID-19 infection rates have dropped.
Other travel representatives also said demand seemed to be picking up, and they noted the various ways their businesses were not able to operate at their pre-pandemic capacity. Omar Steyteyieh, vice president of Napa Valley Wine County Tours, described the tourism situation as “very encouraging” and said it was clear just looking at the faces of visitors that the sense of normalcy that came after the lifting of most of the restrictions brought people a lot of joy.
But his business and other parts of the tourism industry are facing understaffing amid a surge of demand, he said. And the cost of hosting a tour has increased dramatically for a variety of reasons, he added, including the fact that concierges need to take the time to book wineries and wine tasting costs have generally increased. .
Steyteyieh added that while it is a bit bittersweet to be understaffed when demand explodes, the demand itself is still a positive sign.