COVID-19 Industry Update
August 13, 2020
St. Pete/Clearwater’s Tourist Development Council is making history next week. For the first time ever, its monthly TDC meeting will be held virtually. Get complete details on how to watch the 10 a.m. meeting here.
Until then, here are a number of relevant updates.
BUOYED BY VACATION RENTALS, JUNE BED TAX DOWN 24%
Just two months removed from the COVID-19 shutdown, St. Pete/Clearwater’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT) for June eclipsed $4.3 million---down 24% year-over-year. Collections were projected to be closer to $2 million given the impacts of the pandemic. April TDT came in at $722,427 and May was $2.35 million. June’s destination-wide STR numbers showed a state-high 53.3% occupancy (down 29.7%) and an Average Daily Rate (ADR) of $136.19 (down 8%). Meanwhile, vacation rentals sold more room nights in 2020 than 2019 by 0.5% and ADR went up 1.3%. July is expected to regress given the increase in COVID-19 cases locally and statewide that happened in late June and early July.
LATEST DESTINATION ANALYST RESEARCH AVAILABLE
For 22 weeks, Destination Analyst’s has been surveying more than 1,200 adult American travelers in four U.S. regions to track traveler sentiment and generate insights into when tourism businesses can expect demand to return and from whom. In addition, this week’s findings analyzed how people have shifted their lifestyle priorities. Watch the presentation of findings here and sign up for next week’s webinar (11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18) here.
AFAR LAUNCHES ST. PETE/CLEARWATER TRAVEL GUIDE
As part of a media partnership with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, AFAR recently launched one of its trademark Travel Guides for St. Pete/Clearwater. The guide, which is an editorial piece written by AFAR, includes an overview of the destination, along with the Best Hotels, Required Eating, Best Things To Do and an Art Lover’s Guide.
ELITE EVENT FUNDING PROGRAM MOVES FORWARD WITH 16 EVENTS
Applications for FY21 Elite Event Funding were reviewed and scored by the TDC Review Committee last Friday, August 7. Of the 19 events under consideration, 16 received the requisite average score of 700 or more points from the committee to advance for funding consideration. Next steps: the full TDC will review and approve Committee recommendations on Wednesday, August 19, followed by BCC review and approval of TDC recommendations in September. Pending approval, of the 16 potential Elite Events, five are new applicants and total requested funding is $1,050,000.
RUTH ECKERD HALL COVID-19 TESTING SITE NOW OPEN
A Ruth Eckerd Hall testing site opened this week. The location provides closer access to north and mid-county residents and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 7-10 a.m. Residents are encouraged to bring a doctor’s referral. The site is in partnership with BayCare, Pinellas County, the City of Clearwater, the Florida Department of Health Pinellas County (FDOH), and Ruth Eckerd Hall.
SHINE ST. PETE MURAL FESTIVAL EXPANDING FOCUS ON ENVIRONMENT
The sixth annual SHINE Mural Festival is expanding its partnership with PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Artists for the Oceans program to theme this year’s event entirely around the environment. Sea Walls: St. Petersburg will feature an all-Florida artist lineup with an emphasis on Tampa Bay artists to support the local community for all 10 new murals. The event is slated for Nov. 7-14.
DISNEY REDUCES HOURS STARTING SEPTEMBER 8
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, all four theme parks at Walt Disney World are scaling back its hours. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom are closing an hour early, while Epcot will close two hours early.
TSA PASSENGER SCREENINGS HIT NEW PANDEMIC HIGH
Data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shows that air travel hit a new pandemic high on Sunday, Aug. 9, with almost 832,000 passengers. It was the first time since March that airlines carried more than 800,000 people in a single day. That number represented 31% of the previous year’s passengers.
SEAWORLD'S SECOND QUARTER ATTENDANCE DROPS NEARLY 96 PERCENT
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the company that owns Busch Gardens, Adventure Island and SeaWorld saw nearly 96 percent drops in attendance and revenue during the second quarter of 2020. SeaWorld Entertainment executives announced the numbers for April, May and June during a conference call with investors on Monday, saying the coronavirus pandemic led to a net loss of $131 million at its 12 parks. Only seven of those parks, all in Florida and Texas, were open for a portion of the quarter in June, with Busch Gardens reopening June 10. As a result, quarterly attendance nationwide dropped from 6.5 million in 2019 to 300,000 this year.
U.S. LIFTS BLANKET TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR AMERICANS
The U.S. State Department lifted its global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory last Thursday, which it originally issued on March 19. The Department will return to assigning individual advisory levels on a country-by-country basis depending on the country's specific coronavirus response and conditions.