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  • McFarlane Promotions

An Empty Event Represents 12 Million Unemployed

Updated: Nov 19

Note: Photos and videos to this page will be updated as additional files becomes available.


As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, businesses, employees and attendees have faced the catastrophic effects of bans on mass gatherings. With over 12 million people unemployed from the events industry, making up 33% of all unemployed nationwide, the events industry was the first to be impacted by pandemic related restrictions and will be last to enter reopening phases. San Diego joined in a national effort to rally support for the events industry on Thursday, August 13 by hosting a socially-distanced Empty Event Rally and Empty Truck Caravan.

The hospitality and events industry in San Diego consists of almost 200,000 professionals in the event space, and visitors who attend conferences and events generated nearly $329 million in occupancy tax revenue for the fiscal year July 2018-June 2019. The forced cancellation of tens of thousands of San Diego events has resulted in mass layoffs, high unemployment rates for the industry, the looming reality of small business closures and catastrophic economic corrosion. Spearheaded by McFarlane Promotions, a group of local event planners, venues and vendors have formed the San Diego Events Coalition focusing on creating a safe road map for future events and campaigning for financial assistance for businesses and employees until events are possible again.


The Empty Event Rally was held in front of the County Administration Center at the Waterfront Park and featured 48 tables each representing 250,000 Events Industry workers out of work due to COVID-19 with 480 empty seats representing the positions of those workers that cannot be performed. Both in-person and virtual comments were made by local elected officials and industry leaders expressing the vital need for urgent action to Save Live Events and the grave impact the decimation of this industry will have on the local and national economies. The total Government shutdown of events means the industry has been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with no certainty of a change in the foreseeable future.


Meetings and events contribute over $1 Trillion to the United States Economy and now are expected to lose up to 80% of overall revenue. While there is no expectation for mass gatherings to be permitted at this time, it is imperative that legislators, policymakers, and those who influence them understand the extent of the damage to the industry and the need for assistance.


The San Diego Events Coalition stands with an alliance of events industry professionals, spearheaded by the Live Events Coalition, in requesting relief in the following key areas to keep the industry alive:

*20 percent of San Diego County Grant funds set aside for the events industry, allocating funds based on the industries most severely impacted.

*Priority made to defining a roadmap to safely reopening events in collaboration with industry leaders.

*An updated and improved PPP program allowing for second round forgivable funding and designed with special consideration for the events industry and industry workers.

*Ability for event businesses to reapply for additional EIDL funding based on need.

*Additional aid on the Federal level targeted to support the events industry.

*Extension of additional unemployment benefits.



Events are economic drivers of our community, vital fundraisers for local charities and spaces for magical memories to be made. The event industry needs governmental support if we want events to be around in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Thompson


Jenna is a mountain based Yogi with a love for veggie focused foods. When she's not in Warrior Pose you can find her spending time with her Avalanche Rescue Dog Luna with a Matcha Latte in hand!



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