The postponement of the BNP Paribas Open in Southern California because of the coronavirus has done more than temporarily idle the men’s and women’s pro tennis tours. It has jolted the Coachella Valley's economy during peak tourist season in the desert.
The two-week tournament's economic impact to the area topped $400 million in the most recent survey done in 2017. It was set to run Monday through March 22. Based on the survey it has attracted upwards of 450,000 people, including 124,000 from outside the region.
“It's one of our biggest events of the year,” Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, said by phone Monday. “This is a tough one to get through. I think a lot of people were very surprised by the postponement.”
White said the bureau would begin surveying hoteliers and area attractions Tuesday to find out the impact of not holding the tournament at this time after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley. He said hotels and restaurants are using enhanced cleaning methods to protect guests and workers.
The Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency for the desert cities 110 miles east of Los Angeles, including Indian Wells where the ATP and WTA tours were to play the combined event that offers prize money of over $17 million.
Riverside County health officials on Monday announced three new novel coronavirus cases in the Coachella Valley, bringing the area total to six.
Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county public health officer, said the three infections were either the result of travel into areas where COVID-19 has been confirmed or contact with a known case. Two of the individuals have been isolated at home, Kaiser said, while the third is being cared for at a Coachella Valley hospital.
The county said its first locally acquired case involves a patient who is being treated at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage. Public health investigators have not been able to determine how the individual was infected, Kaiser said.