RICHARD GOLDMAN | How Congress can revive Florida’s travel and tourism industry

RICHARD GOLDMAN | How Congress can revive Florida’s travel and tourism industry

Here on Florida’s Historic Coast and in communities around the nation, one of the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic is travel and tourism. It is also one of the industries best-equipped to help lead an economic recovery: nationally, travel generated $2.6 trillion in annual economic activity before the pandemic; the industry restored jobs faster than any other after the 2000s financial crisis; and there is evidence of pent-up travel demand that will be unleashed once the worst of the health crisis abates. But maximizing travel’s recuperative potential will require the work of destination marketing entities like the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. Like most destination marketing organizations (DMOs), our budget is dependent upon tourism revenues that dried up almost completely in just a few short weeks. Also like most DMOs, we are a non-profit organization, meaning we are not currently eligible for relief under the main financial assistance vehicle authorized by the U.S. Congress, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). For Florida and other states whose economies rely heavily on tourism, Congress must rectify that, and quickly. The mission of DMOs, which include convention and visitors bureaus, is to drive demand for businesses, attractions and visitor experiences. They also attract events that are enormous generators of economic activity, such as trade shows and conventions. DMOs are vital to local economic development, and will play a critical role in bringing back essential tourism revenues. By definition, DMOs are small business champions—in fact, 83% of all ...
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