‘It’s our time to shine’: With Tampa Bay in the spotlight, tourism officials hope to capitalize

In the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, those in charge of promoting the Tampa Bay area know it’s time to put their best foot forward and hope to benefit from all of the national and international attention.

From the time Tampa was announced as a host city to now, a lot has happened. Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, said organizers had to be flexible.

"I can tell you that usually, some crisis brings about buzzwords: pivoting, flexibility, change, evolution – all of those apply and we have seen all of those happen during the planning process," he told FOX 13. "A big shoutout to our sports commission and of course our host committee. We all work so well together, the city, the county, the airport, the port, the attractions, the hotel industry, you know you have to come together to put on an event of this magnitude."

Another recently-developed variable was the home team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, qualifying to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, Raymond James Stadium -- meaning organizers had to tweak their marketing mission again. Corrada agrees, it’s the time for Tampa Bay to shine.

ALL STORIES: Super Bowl in Tampa

"Usually, you have two target destination," Corrada explained. "if it’s two teams from out of the area. But now we are targeting our locals. ‘Hey, take it in as a tourist. Stay in a hotel. Go out to eat. Bring in friends and relatives. Have them stay in hotels and join us because again its history-making.’ 

"What a great year to have Super Bowl 55, an iconic number," he added, "as well as have our host city team play in a host Super Bowl. All of the stars have aligned for us to make it an incredible 2021 opening."

Fans participate in Super Bowl Fan Experience along Tampa's Riverwalk

However, organizers said with the pandemic, they had to make sure safety protocols were in place and do their best to inform both locals and visitors.

"We have to make sure that we are stressing face masks, social distancing, cleanliness – that our visitors know what those rules are so we can stay safe and they can stay safe," Corrada said. "It is a tough job but it isn’t because we have this beautiful destination to promote and Super Bowls happen to fall during this time of the year where we know how it is in other parts of the country and we don’t have that problem here."

READ: Football fans kick-off Super Bowl week with free festivities along Riverwalk

Even though the pandemic is ongoing, the economic impact may not be what it could’ve been. However, Visit Tampa Bay official insist it’s still a good thing to be a host city.

"I don’t think there is any city in the country that, if they could, wouldn’t change places with us to do this," Corrada said. "I’ve always said a full loaf is great, but a half loaf is better than no loaf. We’ve got, I think, a full loaf because we’re going to see impact based on what we know is happening in other parts of the country and what is happening to us locally."