As the ripples from the COVID-19 pandemic stretch across all of America – popular attractions like Disney are closed, airlines are restricting travel and borders are being shut. All of this could amount to economic freefall for a state like Florida that relies on the more than 126 million tourists that visit the state each year injecting more than $40 billion annually into the economy.
The coronavirus is hitting the economy in Central Florida hard, with several counties missing out on millions due to conventions and events being canceled.
Orange County officials said the county has lost more than $280 million due to conventions being canceled amid fears of the coronavirus, and it could lose even more.
Several Central Florida cities and counties have declared states of emergency. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.
Channel 9 spoke with financial advisers on the impacts the coronavirus could have on Central Florida.
“Because we are highly reliant on tourism and leisure, we could see a potential financial slowdown in Central Florida. The scope and magnitude will be dependent on how long it takes to peak and level out. We are already seeing the effects with the closure of theme parks, cruises, flights, professional sports,” said Dale Crossley, a financial adviser. March 13 – ABC News
At the moment, it seems there is no end in sight and for the hotels, theme parks and countless other destinations and small business that rely on tourists to stay afloat, there’s concern about who will be left standing once life returns to normal, or at least a new normal.
There are a lot of questions that remain:
- How long can the marquee destinations like Disney and Universal Resorts remain closed?
- Are there any substantial bailouts or government assistance to be expected?
- Once travel resumes, what will it take to assure visitors of their safety?
- And, can we expect incentives from industry or the government to lure people, and their wallets back to the Sunshine State and what will they look like?
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Peter Ricci is a clinical associate professor and director of the Department of Marketing and Hospitality Management in FAU’s College of Business. He is a hospitality industry veteran with more than 20 years of managerial experience in segments including food service, lodging, incentive travel, and destination marketing. Peter is available to speak with media about this topic – simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.
Peter Ricci, Ed.D. Clinical Associate Professor and Director
Peter Ricci is an expert in food service, lodging, incentive travel, and destination marketing.