COVID-19 Industry Update 

April 30, 2020

As our destination and state begin to reopen, there is a lot of new information this week and into the next. Below is a breakdown of the latest and a round-up of other relevant items.


Community pools, including those at hotels and motels, at 50 percent of the stated capacity were allowed to reopen at 6 a.m. this morning. Detailed information on pools reopening, including suggested signage can be found here.

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners is slated to meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the Local State of Emergency.

Pinellas County beaches are slated to reopen at 7 a.m. Monday, May 4.

Hillsborough County has extended all of its existing closures through Friday, May 15.


Governor Ron DeSantis unveiled Florida’s reopen plan, which officially begins on Monday after DeSantis extended the current Safer at Home order through 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4, which continues to prohibit vacation rentals.

Phase I of Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, beginning Monday, includes:

  • Continuing with CDC social distancing guidelines and airport screening and isolation that’s already taking place.
  • Restaurants can allow seating with CDC recommended spacing with indoor seating at 25% capacity and outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
  • Museums and libraries can open with 25% capacity. 
  • Non-essential retail stores can open with 25% capacity.
  • Bars, gyms, movie theaters, salons and spas remain closed.
  • Schools remain in distance learning.
  • Elective surgeries can resume.

St. Pete Fighting Chance Fund Expands Eligibility

The City of St. Pete’s Fighting Chance fund has expanded its eligibility requirements allowing for even more St. Pete-based businesses to utilize the $6.8 million the city has set aside for the emergency grant program. Additional industries have been added, including travel agencies and tour operators. The complete program and how to apply can be found here.

Tampa International Launches TPA Ready

Tampa International Airport has launched a comprehensive, airport-wide effort dubbed “TPA Ready” that mandates best practices for social distancing, mask usage, plastic shield barriers, surface disinfection and touchless transactions, all designed to slow or stop the spread of germs and viruses. The airport will also be strongly urging passengers and guests to modify behaviors and follow guidelines designed to keep themselves and others healthy and safe.

Additionally, TPA has collaborated with Flagship Janitorial Cleaning Services to deploy several new technological devices to increase its airport cleaning protocol. For example, the TPA’s newest robot software ensures the airport’s handrails are continuously sanitized, requiring minimal manpower. TPA also plans to install “smart restroom” software from TRAX Analytics to gather information on restroom cleanliness by monitoring restroom traffic flow. Other sanitation-related technology will include:

  • Kaivac: Used for restroom cleaning and disinfecting, this system allows for touchless cleaning of restroom floors and large surfaces using a pressure washing method.
  • Karcher misters: This sprays disinfectant evenly on all surfaces, which allows to clean large areas in short periods of time.
  • Victory electrostatic sprayers: With positively charged particles that evenly adhere to surfaces, these will be used to disinfect touchpoints and surfaces such as elevator buttons and tabletops.
  • T7 Autonomous auto scrubbers: The auto scrubber is programmed to scrub an area while the employee can perform other duties.

National Travel & Tourism Week

Sunday marks the beginning of the annual celebration of travel and tourism. VSPC is celebrating a different way each day next week and we need your help. We are looking for landmarks and businesses throughout the destination to be lit in red on Tuesday and a webinar will be hosted on Thursday, among other items. Full details here.

VSPC Webinar Recaps

Last week, VSPC hosted a webinar with three agency partners and almost 200 industry partners highlighting the latest on the marketing and research front, including SPC-specific insights from Destination Analysts. This week, VSPC hosted a sales webinar with NorthStar Meetings Group and Connect Travel. Complete recaps, including the presentations and recordings, are available: Marketing & Research Webinar and Sales Webinar.

IPW 2021 Now in Las Vegas

Next year’s IPW, America’s largest travel show, will take place in Las Vegas after this year’s event there was canceled. Next year’s original host city, Chicago, has moved to 2025 with Orlando being 2022, San Antonio 2023 and Los Angeles in 2024.

Media Treated to #BrighterDaysAhead Care Package

St. Pete/Clearwater is home to many incredible small businesses, and in an effort to support them during this time of uncertainty, the internal PR team alongside the NJF PR Agency team coordinated #BrighterDaysAhead care packages. Sent out to 19 top-tier media, the care packages provided a moment of relief from morning to evening, featuring a canned cold brew coffee from MADE Coffee, soap with Tropical Sea Sponges, candle from Nightshift Wax Co. and a cocktail from Trophy Fish.

Latest U.S. Travel Economic Estimates

The U.S. Travel Association projects a loss of 4.6 million jobs through May, a figure likely to increase. U.S. weekly jobless claims hit 6.6 million, doubling in a week — by far the biggest spike in half a century. A study from Tourism Economics predicts that the U.S. tourism industry will lose at least $24 billion in 2020. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that up to 50 million jobs in the global travel industry could be lost.

U.S. Travel Developing Industry Safety Protocols

In conjunction with several other industry partners, and at the request of the White House, U.S. Travel is leading the development of a set of safety protocols that can be adopted industry-wide. They are collaborating closely with member organizations in every industry segment and partner associations, as well as medical experts, as the industry works to make Americans feel safe throughout every part of the travel experience. More details will be available next week.

Destination Analysts Highlights Traveler Expectations

In Destination Analysts latest weekly research update, it gives insight into what travelers will be expecting as destinations reopen and people start thinking about traveling again. Here is the complete recap, including the slides (starting at 25) that detail expected best practices from public places, restaurants and general businesses.

American Hotel & Lodging Association Launches Safe Stay Initiative

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has launched “Safe Stay,” an initiative focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19. Safe Stay will seek to change hotel industry norms, behaviors and standards to ensure both hotel guests and employees are confident in the cleanliness and safety of hotels once travel resumes.

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