December 2020

With Christmas and the New Year approaching, I think it’s time for a little ‘end of the year’ story or a Christmas Carol…….

Once upon a time, in the old days, as the days got shorter and winter storms piled snow around the door, those in the travel and tourism industry reflected on the past year and looked forward to the next twelve months.  Well, you can tell this is a fairy tale as haven’t had any significant snow on the northern Gulf Coast in recent memory! Also although the days do get slightly shorter here compared with the summer, we still normally get long, bright, sunny and warm days right through the holiday period. A definite upside to living in Paradise.

The Ghost of Tourism Christmas Past has thankfully decided not to make an appearance in this tale.  To be honest the Ghost has decided that looking back is just too depressing, even for him, so has decided to give things a miss.

The Ghost of Tourism Christmas Present is here though, and appears to be in a confused mood. As I mentioned last month, tourism here on the Gulf of Mexico has been rather better than we dared hope for back in the early part of 2020.  The numbers of travelers who still want to make the journey to our area have held up remarkably well.  It’s true that things have changed, but we are hosting many people who want socially distanced vacations and families that want to do home schooling in our area. Indeed those able to work from home are able to temporarily move their home, to our home.

Traveling currently requires adaptations to ensure your safety as well as other’s. The rise in vacations to places that can be reached in a day – probably by driving – and staying in suitably safe accommodations has worked well for our area. 

It’s not so great for international tourism, which has taken a bit hit over the past ten or eleven months.  Most of us can’t just jump on a jet to overseas destinations currently and equally the numbers of international guests have been severely restricted. Although the theme parks of Central Florida are open, they’re not receiving the quantity of visitors they want or need.

Likewise although some Snowbirds will make it to us this year, many more (particularly the Canadians) will just either not be able to get here, or will out of an abundance of caution decide to give this season a pass.

Which brings us to the Ghost of Tourism Christmas future.  This particular specter also has a mixed story to tell.  The recent emergence of a collection of vaccines should make people more willing to travel in 2021. Airlines are making plans to start ramping up services. Even international tourists should start returning.  Hotels and rental accommodations have learnt much in the past months and are able to offer safe and welcoming places for people to stay.

Travel for business may take longer to recover as many companies have found benefits from employees working remotely, telecommuting and using technology for meetings. However that gives us leisure tourists more opportunities to snap up good deals.

We may not see the sort of Spring Break vacations that have happened in past years with huge numbers of young travelers, but again there’s an opportunity for families to take safe spring breaks instead.

There is much to be optimistic about for travel, tourism and hospitality in the coming year.  It’s going to be ‘different’ than it has been in the past, but the Christmas and New Year break still gives us the opportunity to start planning.  Let’s all concentrate on where we’re going to be going in the coming year when we feel able to do so.

2020 is nearly in the past and I think that’s something for which we can all be grateful.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!