Florida’s Tourism Industry Hit Hard by Coronavirus Pandemic, New Study Shows

According to a study released on Tuesday by Destinations Florida, the negative economic impacts of the pandemic response have increased significantly in the last month for Florida’s tourism industry.

Tourism-related businesses continue to see a downward slide in hotel occupancy rates, hotel bookings, profits and employee layoffs from mid-March to mid-April. This study follows a mid-March study that tracked the initial impacts of the pandemic response.

Since March 19, Florida tourism businesses reported:

  • Hotel occupancy dropped to 13 percent in mid-April, down from 23 percent in mid-March
  • Average hotels, vacation rental agencies and bed & breakfasts bookings 30 days out dropped to -80 percent mid-April from -63 percent in mid-March
  • Average hotels, vacation rental agencies and bed and breakfasts bookings 60 days out dropped to -68 percent mid-April from -49 percent in mid-March
  • Profits were down 83 percent in mid-April, a further drop from 47 percent in mid-March
  • 45 percent of responding tourism industry partners had laid off employees; the average laid off 73 percent of their employees

The study further noted that 72 percent of respondents have applied for federal stimulus funds while only 17 percent have received it.

“We knew the numbers for April would look worse than the numbers from March as our state began to institute closures and stricter guidelines as part of its pandemic response. However, hope is on the horizon as Florida begins the measured, phased approach to reopening,” said Robert Skrob, the executive director of Destinations Florida, on Tuesday. “Now, more than ever, we will need the funds collected for tourism promotion through local tourism taxes to promote our destinations to potential visitors. Our local tourism promotion organizations are ready to do their part to bring visitors back to Florida so we can rekindle Florida’s and local economies.”

The results of this second study were compiled from a total of 1,009 completed surveys from industry partners in 36 counties. The majority of respondents were small tourism-reliant businesses with fewer than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenues. The study is a collaboration between Destination Florida and Downs & St. Germain Research, which donated its time and expertise to this project.

In a report released earlier this year, Destinations Florida highlighted examples of how state and tourism promotion organizations have helped Florida overcome and recover from threats to the industry including hurricanes, the Zika virus outbreak, red tide, green/blue algae, and oil spills.

Destinations Florida is the statewide association that serves local tourism promotion organizations. It serves as the unifying voice representing Florida’s destination marketing organizations and strives to increase the effectiveness of local tourism promotion organizations’ efforts.


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