Client News

Point of View: A COVID-ravaged Florida tourism industry is looking ahead to 2021

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Today, with a measured reopening, safety protocols increased throughout the tourism industry and a vaccine pending, things look a little brighter. According to a December survey, Florida’s tourism industry is starting to see positive trends in employee retention, an increase in the average hotel occupancy rate, and higher percentages of revenue and profit since July.

the threat to tourism is far from over. Research conducted by Destination Analysts indicates nearly 58 percent of Americans surveyed either agree or strongly agree that they plan to avoid all travel until the threat of COVID-19 is diminished. There is a hesitancy to travel with which we must contend.

Thankfully, Florida’s tourism industry is ready for the challenges ahead. Our industry is recovering and it will continue to do so thanks, in part, to the role local tourism promotion agencies play in our state. Their ability to share crucial information, resources and opportunities with the many small and medium-sized tourism businesses across the state provide the support many business owners needed to plan their next steps.

Florida’s tourism industry has long been a foundation of Florida’s diverse economy. Historically, we have created jobs, trained the workforce in necessary employment skills, created revenue that has helped our state’s tax structure, and have helped create and sustain programs and services utilized by all Floridians. As an industry, we are no stranger to challenges, both man-made and natural. The pandemic forced so many industries economies to make sacrifices and take losses that were unexpected. Florida’s tourism industry was no exception.

Destination Florida spent 2020, in part, surveying local tourism agencies and organizations from across the state track the exact impact. In March, our outlook was bleak. There were significant drops in hotel occupancy rates and bookings, revenue losses and employee layoffs. Ninety-seven percent of tourism businesses had drops in profits and revenue, and one in three tourism businesses laid off employees.

Florida’s tourism industry is mostly made up of small and mid-sized businesses owned by locals living and working right in their communities. We know that most small to medium-sized destinations, and their small-business partners, do not have the funding, resources, or expertise to promote themselves to potential visitors. This is why the efforts of local marketing organizations, particularly throughout this year, have been so crucial.

These same organizations have also adapted and found ways to feature what their regions have to offer. They are working on local campaigns that include trying to shine a light on the many diverse outdoor travel opportunities Florida has, touting the safety precautions that hotels and resorts are dedicated to, and ensuring domestic travelers who aren’t ready to travel far just yet know all their area has to offer.

Once the threat of this pandemic has abated, Florida’s tourism industry will continue to work hard to ensure potential visitors know that Florida is open for business. After all, ensuring our robust tourism industry returns is crucial to creating the jobs and revenue that are much needed in our state.


Editor’s note: Thomas is the Chair of Destinations Florida, the statewide association representing local tourism promotion organizations.

Read in the Palm Beach Post

« Return to News