TAMPA, Fla. - In its first marketing campaign since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in mid-March, Visit Florida is urging in-state travel as part of an effort to buoy the state’s economic recovery and its struggling tourism labor market.
During a visit to Daytona Beach on Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis joined Visit Florida president Dana Young to emphasize the role Florida's tourism industry plays in keeping the state's economy solvent.
“This new intrastate marketing campaign is the latest step we’re taking to help get people back to work,” the governor said. “While the pandemic is not over, and safety remains paramount, we encourage Floridians to venture out of their homes to enjoy everything our beautiful state has to offer.”
Tourism accounted for more than 1.5 million Florida jobs and $91 billion in revenue in 2019. However, Florida tourism dropped by more than 60% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020 due to the global downturn in travel caused by COVID-19.
"The campaign will remind Floridians that their home state offers world-class tourism opportunities that most people must travel to other states and countries to experience," the governor's office said in statement.
Young said the initiative is aimed at helping every Florida community recover.
“Our tourism businesses have been severely impacted, but there is no doubt that our state is still the best place to live and the best destination for travelers," she said, adding that Florida's tourism industry "will not stop until we have fully recovered and every Floridian whose job was impacted by COVID-19 can get back to work as quickly as possible.”
The launch comes ahead of the Labor Day weekend, which will prove to be a pivotal moment in the fight against COVID-19. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is warning that U.S. coronavirus cases are "unacceptably high" going into Labor Day, and that the public’s behavior over the holiday weekend will determine how the virus spreads through the colder months.
DeSantis has pushed since early May to revive the state economy, although the effort was met with challenges as COVID-19 cases and deaths surged in late June.
While the rebound campaign is currently geared toward local and regional travelers, Visit Florida said it expects to begin marketing to attract travelers from outside the state in the near future.