FLORIDA (WFLA) — As beaches, theme parks and the rest of the state reopens, many are hoping the it’s enough to turn the economy around and save businesses.
The state is relying on tourism to rebound to save businesses and balance the state budget.
“The last couple of months have just been a devastating blow to Florida’s biggest industry. Tourism is responsible for 1.5 million jobs in the state of Florida, which is $54 billion in income to those workers in those jobs,” said Dana Young, President & CEO of Visit Florida.
Tourism is the number one industry in the state of Florida and it generates billions of dollars in revenue for the state general revenue funds.
“If tourism is under performing then the state budget will take a hit. Also, with so many people in the tourism industry unemployed right now we’re seeing just a ripple effect of all of it,” said Young.
Tampa bay is also reliant on meetings and conventions to fuel hotel stays. “In the month of April hotel demand in Tampa bay was down 72.5%, that is huge. But, May hotel demand was down 47%. So you are seeing a slow reopening and slight improvement,” said Young. “As we start to open up hopefully those meetings and conventions that are still planned will go forward in a safe and appropriate way. And that will help dramatically increase the room demand and the revenue for Tampa.”
Visit Florida typically markets out of state and even to other countries to get people to visit, but for the first time, the organization is gearing up to launch its first ever campaign targeting Floridians.
Young said the pandemic is changing travel trends and they are looking to focus on that.
“There clearly is a pent-up demand for travel and people are cooped up and ready to go. But our research tells us people will be most comfortable traveling fairly close to their homes,” Young said.
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