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Corona Economics

Survey finds 99% of Florida lodging businesses are suffering

One in three report having to lay people off due to coronavirus crisis.

A full 99% of Florida’s lodging businesses are seeing bookings drop because of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey commissioned by the Florida’s destination marketing advocacy group Destinations Florida.

The survey, conducted of 995 businesses in 37 Florida counties, finds that 99% of hotels, vacation rental agencies, and bed and breakfast businesses are reporting drop-offs of bookings 30 days out, and 94% of them are seeing drop-offs in bookings 60 days out.

“While the numbers may seem bleak at the moment, Florida’s tourism industry can and will rebound provided we are able to successfully promote our state and local destinations to potential visitors,” Robert Skrob, executive director of Destinations Florida, stated in a news release. “Once the threat of COVID-19 has abated, we will need VISIT FLORIDA, local tourism promotion organizations and local tourism taxes now more than ever to let potential visitors know that Florida is open for business. A return to a healthy, vibrant tourism industry also means jobs and revenue returned to the state.”

Since March 1, Florida tourism businesses also reported:

– Hotel occupancy was at 23% this week, as compared to 82% occupancy in the same week last year.

– 97% of tourism businesses had drops in profits and revenues.

– One in three tourism businesses laid off employees.

In releasing the results of the survey, Destinations Florida pushed for support for the visitor-generated sales tax revenue, for funding VISIT FLORIDA and for protecting current uses of local tourism taxes.

The organization cited its recent report, Destination Promotion: Empowering Florida’s Growth, for details of how state and tourism promotion organizations have helped Florida overcome and recover from threats to the industry including hurricanes, the Zika virus outbreak, red tide, green/blue algae and oil spills.

Destinations Florida cites state data showing $3 billion in annual sales tax revenue is generated by visitors to the state, along with $5.5 billion in local tax revenues.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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