To ensure we are equipping our readers with all the information they need, we will continue to report on all travel, safety, and COVID-related news that could impact a Disney Parks visit.
The global pandemic continues to impact the tourism industry in Florida.
The rise of COVID-19 case numbers in Florida, and around the country, due to the delta variant has been met by the CDC issuing new mask recommendations and travel restrictions remaining in place. Masks are required again indoors at Disney World and all Disney employees must get a COVID vaccine. Now, we’re seeing a slight decline in tourism in Florida due to the high case numbers.
The state of Florida is seeing a decrease in tourism due to the high case numbers from the delta variant, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Travel industry experts expect the slowdown to be brief.
Visit Florida Board of Directors just approved plans for the state’s tourism-marketing arm to apply for a federal grant of $14.8 million to help Florida try and attract more tourists from other states around the country. The money is tied to $3 billion in grants that were made available in July through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the president of Visit Florida, Dana Young, told board members that, “these funds are not yet received. Actually, we haven’t even applied for them yet. We feel confident, because this money has already been allocated, that we will receive them.”
They are trying to keep up the pace of recovery that the leisure and hospitality industry has seen in Florida this year after the global pandemic caused a significant amount of economic damage in 2020.
According to the Sentinel, travel into Florida (driven by tourists from other states), was 223% higher in the second quarter of 2021 than during the same 3 months in 2020. The state attracted 31.7 million domestic and international visitors during the second quarter of 2021, which was 2.2% lower than the same period in 2019.
Additionally, according to the Orange County Comptroller, Phil Diamond, Tourist Development Tax (a tax on the consideration paid by guests renting or leasing living quarters in a hotel, motel, or other select locations for a period of 6 months or less) collections received by Orange County for the July TDT collection month were a 376% increase over July of 2020. The report from the Comptroller notes that this is encouraging news, but that COVID-19 cases are “still weighing heavily on Florida and Orange County.”
Concerns about traveling to Florida have been raised because the state is a hot spot for COVID-19 due to the highly contagious delta variant. The Orlando Sentinel says that since the second half of July, Florida has had more than 10,000 new COVID cases a day.
However, Visit Florida’s director of consumer insights and analytics, Jacob Pewitt Yancey, said that recent surveys have only shown a slight indication of people altering their travel plans for the next 6 months. He said, “people in general, travelers seem to be very confident that this is just a temporary bump in the road.”
Visit Florida spent $19.2 million on its “rebound” campaign and also received $50 million from the state for marketing in the current fiscal year, which is the same amount they received last year. They also will be getting an additional $25 million through the American Rescue Plan Act and other federal stimulus money. Stay tuned to DFB for more news and updates.