COVID-19 Industry Update
April 16, 2021
Just a year ago, our beaches were closed, destination-wide occupancy was in the teens and the world was grappling with unknowns of COVID-19.
What a difference a year makes.
The most recent destination data confirms what many in the St. Pete/Clearwater tourism industry have been saying recently: “I’ve never seen the destination this busy.”
In the 30 days since March 12, St. Pete/Clearwater’s occupancy has eclipsed 90 percent 20 times and hasn’t fallen below 80 percent, according to STR. During that time, the destination’s occupancy has averaged 91.3 percent. March of 2019, the destination’s busiest month of all time, saw an average occupancy of 88.6 percent.
The same can be said for vacation rentals, who have been performing on par or better than 2019, according to KeyData.
And demand doesn’t appear to be slowing down. KeyData shows vacation rentals outpacing 2019 for much of the next six months, while hotels are well positioned to bridge Easter and Summer Break without a traditional lull.
Meanwhile, Pinellas County has vaccinated more than 371,000 residents with at least one dose and the county is encouraging those who have received it to share your story and information to help with boosting vaccine confidence in the community. Here are some suggestions on how to do that:
• Update your Facebook profile picture with a frame to tell your friends. You could also take a selfie to share your story. Be sure to tag #VaccinatePinellas.
• Share the facts from trustworthy sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) FAQ page, CDC’s Myths & Facts and Get Vaccine Answers.
• Share where others can get the vaccine. The county has significant appointment availability through PatientPortalFL.com, which offers the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and over. Curious what the process at the county site is? Watch this video. There are a number of other locations residents can get the vaccine at, too.
Below are other relevant updates.
VSPC PARTNERS WITH FORWARD PINELLAS ON NEW SAFE STREETS VIDEO
To help further Forward Pinellas’ Safe Streets Pinellas, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater helped produce a new video promoting pedestrian safety, particularly along Gulf Blvd. in our beach communities. Safe Street Pinellas is a collaborative effort to create a transportation system that is safe for everyone. The goal is for no one to be killed or seriously injured using the roadways in Pinellas County. Last year, 107 people were killed.
CLEARWATER BEACH MAKES TRAVEL + LEISURE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES LIST
Travel + Leisure unveiled its “25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World” this week and Clearwater Beach made the list alongside beaches in Greece, Thailand, Portugal, Brazil and beyond. A Hawaiian beach was the only other beach from the U.S. to make the list.
TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LAUNCHES FOOD DELIVERY, NEW ROUTES ADDED
Passengers, visitors and employees at Tampa International Airport (TPA) can now have food delivered directly to them throughout any airport location with a new online ordering service. The new program, TPA to Go, offers customers a touchless, convenient and fast option for pickup or delivery. Orders can be placed through the Grab app or visiting here. Contactless pickup is free while a free of $4.99 is applied for deliveries. Also, TPA has added two new nonstop Southwest routes including weekend service from Chicago O’Hare on April 17 and Saturday service from Salt Lake City on June 12. United Airlines is also resuming daily nonstop service from San Francisco on June 3 and starting June 9 Spirit is flying nonstop from Kansas City.
UK STARTING TO REOPEN, REPORTS OF U.S.-UK TRAVEL CONTINUE
On Monday, the UK began easing COVID-19 restrictions as part of its phased reopening plan that is scheduled to culminate on June 21. The first step saw pubs, shops, hair salons and more reopened with some restrictions still in place. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced that an update to the UK’s current international travel restrictions will be released before May 17 with further details to come. A recent Telegraph story suggested that the U.S. would likely be on the UK’s “green list,” allowing for summer UK travel to the U.S. There have been other reports that the Biden administration is eyeing mid-May to resume travel between the UK and U.S., too.
WHO CALLS EUROPE’S VACCINE ROLLOUT ‘UNACCEPTABLY SLOW’
While the U.S. is moving at a good vaccination pace, Europe has struggled with its rollout and drawn criticism from the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO’s director recently called the rollout “unacceptably slow” with just 10% of the almost 900 million people who live in Europe having received a single dose of coronavirus vaccine.
NATIONAL BLUE CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rolled out the Blue Campaign, a nationwide effort to end human trafficking. Hospitality has been identified as one of three industries that is particularly well-positioned to recognize human trafficking due to being located where it often occurs, the anonymity offered by the nature of the service and 24/7 operations. Here are resources to help educate frontline employees to recognize and report human trafficking.