MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - As Florida begins to open back up, Manatee County officials are brainstorming ways to get tourist back safely.
Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director, Elliott Falcione, said they have not been spending any money on marketing for the last month and a half. He said the county is listening to health and government officials and plans to ease back into things slowly.
Even though the state declared their stay-at-home order in March, Manatee County Tax Collections reported that the tax collections for the month of March were up year to date by 1.4%. That increase can be attributed to the business done within the first eleven days of March. But, Falcione said April will probably be the most detrimental month for tourism, with May close behind it.
Despite the lack of advertising, there has been an uptick in online searches from people interested in traveling to Manatee County. Falcione attributes this to the strong brand of the Suncoast and all of the different amenities it offers, like the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
“I’ll bet you that consumers are more likely and comfortable to want to fly into an airport like that, that is more quiet, less people, they don’t have to ride a train, than going to a major airport like Atlanta. Where it’s more congested, where there may be a little bit more of an uncomfortable mindset," Falcione said.
When it comes to marketing, the county plans to only advertise through social media platforms and other digital platforms that are visited by people who are looking to travel until the end of the year.
“If we start seeing some consistency in growth and we get over these hurdles of you know is this virus, could it come back in the fall, could it come back in the winter. If there’s a remedy for this virus, if there’s a vaccine. If we start seeing stability, then we will work on a long term plan in the months of October and November with the hope to launch that for the 2021 season," Falcione said.
The visitors bureau is also monitoring the short-term rental restrictions that are still in place. Falcione said it’s hard to put equity into marketing when short-term rentals aren’t available.