Visit Florida predicts tourism rebound after sharp decline during pandemic

Tourism was down 30% across Florida for the months of July through the end of September, compared to last year, according to Visit Florida.

The tourism industry is a huge revenue generator for the state's budget and is essential to the workforce. During good years, tourism produces as many as 1.5 million jobs.

Navigating the pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride for hotels, vacation rental companies, restaurants, entertainment venues and bars.

"The dynamic has been weird because other states are shutting down but people are still coming here; we're still booking people but yet there are still cancellations," said Percy Watkins, from the Madeira Bay Resort.

Watkins says the resort's bookings are steady, with more reservations coming in for the holidays.

But it is missing a key ingredient: so-called snowbirds, visitors from Canada and Europe.

"It's mostly the drive market here in the US from other states that we're getting," said Watkins.

Visit Florida says the third quarter of 2020 is encouraging despite the drop in summer tourism.

And summer was still an improvement over the spring, March through the end of May, when tourism across the state dropped 60.5%.