Florida’s economy is based on tourism with its many beaches, theme parks, cruise ships, sports arenas and resort hotels; however, COVID-19 has caused many businesses to suffer or shut down.
Florida’s tourism is changing due to COVID-19. It is affecting the hotel and airline industry as well. COVID-19 is also affecting when and how people go to the beach.
In March 2019, Palm Beach County hotels collected a record of $7.89 million in taxes, which was record-setting. Due to the pandemic, hotel occupancy in Palm Beach County dropped by 77 percent.
Before the peak of the pandemic, Palm Beach International Airport had 102 flights per day. Just one month later, the airport has less than 20 flights per day. This massive decrease in flights almost caused the airport to shut down. It was saved from a $37 million grant from the government.
During the pandemic’s height, beach access was restricted by allowing visitors to stay for a limited time and not allowing blankets, coolers or towels on the beaches.
Many argue that Florida is a popular vacation destination that does not need a bailout. In the Sun-Sentinel, Ron DeSantis released his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year; it included a $50 million boost for Visit Florida. This boost will help revive the tourism industry in Florida.
Efforts to boost the Florida tourism economy would include promoting a “staycation” and promoting places tourists can get by in a car. People do this to get out but also by minimizing the risk. What tourist sites need to keep in mind is that they need to prove to their guests that they will be safe.
It is forecasted that people will get used to this norm in the future, just as people eventually became used to enhanced security measures at airports and other travel spots after September 11.