Holiday weekend offers glint of hope for summer tourism
As the Memorial Day holiday unfolds, area hoteliers report an encouraging uptick in business, a welcome change from recent single-digit occupancy. The question is whether it will last through the summer.
In Volusia County’s tourism industry, as in many other parts of the economy, much uncertainty remains about prospects for rebounding from the catastrophic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
Yet the Memorial Day holiday weekend offers a welcome ray of sunshine for hoteliers hit hard in recent months by restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and caused occupancy rates to plummet into single digits.
For the first time in more than two months, many hotels are sold out. It’s an encouraging sign on the opening weekend of the peak summer season that could bode well for coming months, said Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County.
“I think it’s on an uptick,” Davis said. “I’m totally amazed, I have to tell you that. By indications now, it will be a good summer. It won’t be last year’s summer, but it will be a good one.”
That optimism was shared by Jim Berkley, general manager of the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, the area’s largest hotel. He expects the hotel to be filled this weekend, the third consecutive weekend of strong demand as restrictions have been lifted on Volusia County beaches.
While Berkley is encouraged about prospects for the summer, he points out that it’s unlikely that occupancy ...
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