Study: Florida’s tourism industry slowly recovering as pandemic continues

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 12:22 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida’s tourism industry is slowly recovering, as impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have lessened since October, according to a study from Destinations Florida released Monday.

The study says since the reopening of Florida, the tourism industry has started to see positive trends in employee retention, an increase in hotel occupancy rates and a higher percentage of revenues and profits since July.

Although there are positive trends, more than half of the tourism partners surveyed in the study say they believe the impact of the pandemic will still be felt until around the third quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

The study found that since Oct. 27, Florida tourism businesses reported the following:

  • 72% of employees retained compared to 56% in June
  • Although labor shortages remain steady at 27%, businesses reported less difficulty in accessing necessary supplies than they did in June
  • Tourism-related business’ profits were down 43% in October compared to 51% in June. Year-to-date, profits are down 55% compared to 2019
  • Tourism-related businesses’ revenues were down 29% in October compared to 45% in June. Year-to-date, revenue is down 40% compared to 2019
  • Hotel occupancy is down 29% in October compared to last year, which is significantly better than the 71% drop seen in April
  • Year-over-year hotel bookings
    • 30 days out: the average hotel, vacation rental and bed & breakfast bookings were down 42% in October, compared to 59% in June
    • 60 days out: the average hotel, vacation rental and bed & breakfast bookings were down 53% in October, compared to 60% in June

Half of the businesses surveyed received Paycheck Protection Program money, with two in five receiving their application for PPP forgiveness, Destinations Florida says. Of those businesses, 97% believe their PPP funding will be forgiven. The study also says if a second COVID-19 stimulus bill passes, two in five businesses say they would be eligible to receive more pandemic-related funding.

Robert Skrob, the executive director of Destinations Florida, says he is optimistic about the tourism industry’s future.

“Slowly but surely, we are seeing signs of a recovery and Florida’s tourism industry, which is a key driver of employment and our economy, continues to work hard to ensure our communities are able to rebound,” said Skrob. “There is no magic fix for an economic recovery but what we have seen, and what we know works, is the efforts of local tourism promotion organizations that have been providing critical resources, information and opportunities for local tourism businesses to welcome visitors back in a safe and secure manner. With the help of these organizations, Florida’s tourism economy is prepped to recover fully and thrive in the future.”

Destinations Florida says it gathered the results for this study from 244 completed surveys from industry partners across 19 counties. Most of the respondents were small businesses reliant on tourism, with fewer than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. St. Germain Research helped Destinations Florida conduct the study.

You can find more information from the study at this link.

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