COVID-19 Industry Update

As Florida’s phased plan progresses, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater continues to make sure the destination is positioned to rebound.

VSPC is promoting what locals and potential visitors can expect when visiting, as well as emphasizing physical distancing and best practices to enjoy the destination. VSPC’s destination updates hub now features a "What’s Open and What’s Not" page, along with "Tips for Visiting Responsibly" and "Beach by Beach: What to Expect on Your Visit". Those pages will continue to evolve and be updated throughout the phases of the plan. If you have an update that isn’t listed, needs to be updated or you want to share your reopening plan, including any new cleaning standards and procedures, email [email protected].

As mentioned in an update last Thursday, VSPC has relaunched paid search efforts and increased paid social media by featuring the above content, along with high-performing videos.

In addition, this past Sunday and continuing this Sunday, more than 330,000 copies of Gulf to Bay magazine are being inserted in the New York Times and local newspapers across Florida, including Sarasota, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona, Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Naples and West Palm Beach. Another 181,000 copies are being inserted via the New York Times in key out-of-state markets, like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Colombus, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Philadelphia and more. Reminder, destination magazines can be ordered for free at any time here.

On the sales side, VSPC is developing video familiarization (FAM) trips for clients to participate in. The first of five leisure sales FAMs has launched with meetings FAMs coming soon.

Also, VSPC’s Vice President of Business Development Suzanne Hackman was chosen to participate in Connect’s Back to Business Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Task Force, which is a group of 15 U.S. DMO executives working on industry-wide business development procedures.

The film world is working on restarting productions as Film Florida recently rolled out guidelines for clean and healthy production sets. Film Commissioner Tony Armer recently talked through those guidelines with dozens of local production companies.

VSPC’s Latin America team has participated in four destination-specific webinars exclusively for the Brazilian market to keep St. Pete/Clearwater top-of-mind. The webinars have been in partnership with Visit Florida, Orinter Tour & Travel, E-htl Viagens OTA, FRT Operadora, Trend Operadora Grupo Trend and CVC Corp Group.

SHERIFF'S BEACH CAPACITY DASHBOARD BACK THIS WEEKEND

After a successful and busy first weekend of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s beach capacity dashboard, the Sheriff is bringing back a modified version for this Saturday and Sunday. The dashboard will go live at 9 a.m. Saturday with live updates on beach and parking capacity. For Memorial Day weekend, the dashboard will be active starting at 1 p.m. Friday and run through Memorial Day.

CARES ACT GRANT UPDATE

Since the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grant application opened on May 4, more than 3,200 completed applications have been submitted. The County has added additional staff to help with grant review to ensure grants are issued to eligible businesses as quickly as possible. The FAQs for applicants are updated regularly based on input, so reference before applying.

MARCH BED TAX DOWN NEARLY 50%

As expected with travel restrictions and state orders going into effect in mid-March, Tourist Development Tax took a 48.6% hit, totaling $4.9 million, which is down from last year’s record March of more than $9.5 million.

With collections about 6 weeks after the close of the month, April’s won’t be reported until the second week of June. Given April’s STR data, which saw a low of 17.1% occupancy, a decrease of 90% from last year’s $6.75 million is possible.

AIR TRAVEL BEGINNING ITS LONG CLIMB BACK

The travel industry knows it’s going to take time to return to its pre-COVID-19 air travel levels, but the recent trend is positive. The national TSA traveler throughput numbers from Monday (215,645) were the highest since March 25 (239,234). Last year, May 11 saw more than 2.5 million travelers through TSA.

WALT DISNEY WORLD ACCEPTING RESERVATIONS STARTING JULY 1

Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Resort hotels are now accepting reservations for travel dates starting July 1 onward. According to its website, guests are able to modify bookings if the resort opens before or after that time. Disney Springs is slated to open May 20.


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