A national organization for travel and tourism companies and visitor bureaus like VISIT FLORIDA reports that the Sunshine State has been losing more than $1 billion per week in travel business.
The U.S. Travel Association has been tracking the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on a weekly basis and, as should be expected, it’s not a pretty picture for Florida and many other states.
The group notes the fourth week in July saw a slight uptick in travel spending nationally, up 1% compared to the previous week. But overall there has been little momentum since much of the economy reopened in May and early June, particularly in recent weeks as the coronavirus resurgence erupted.
Nationally, travel spending has been running at about 51% of 2019’s rate, and slightly lower than that in Florida, according to U.S. Travel Association’s weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. report.
“Through the end of 2020, the report estimates $505 billion in losses for the travel industry for a total of $81 billion in lost federal, state and local taxes by the end of 2020. The travel industry is not expected to recover until 2024,” the U.S. Travel Association said.
The group released its latest weekly report Thursday. It shows that in the week ending last Saturday, July 25, people spent about $1.076 billion in Florida on travel and tourism, about $1.093 billion less than what had been spent during the same week in 2019. The week before, Florida’s travel and tourism spending was down $1.086 billion from the same week a year earlier. The Sunshine State’s year-over-year travel spending losses are shown to be more than $1 billion in all eight weeks tracked in the report, dating back to the week ending June 6.
California and New York actually are seeing greater dollar losses in travel spending than Florida, with California losing more than $1.6 billion every week. But no other state is close to those three.
By percentage, Florida’s travel spending has improved slightly in the first couple of weeks of June when the economy reopened. The state was losing 59% of its business in the first week of June and for most of the weeks since that’s been just over 50%. By contrast, Hawaii, which has stiff restrictions requiring all incoming people to quarantine for two weeks, is losing 82% of its usual travel economy; New York, 72%; and Nevada, 58%.
The association’s weekly report also estimates lost tax revenues. The picture there is similarly grim.
Last week Florida’s loss of travel business eliminated $80 million in tax revenues that would have been expected to flow to the federal government, $32 million going to the state government, and $23 million going to local governments, the group reports. Those tax streams improved some after the first couple of weeks in June as Florida began reopening its economy. But the weekly lost tax revenue figures have remained pretty constant since mid-June, despite Walt Disney World reopening in mid-July.
“Since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in about $309 billion in losses for the U.S. travel economy,” the association reports. “As we near the final week of July, the month is on pace for nearly $52 billion in travel spending losses. At current levels, travel industry losses are on pace to exceed $500 billion for the year.”