ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and other theme parks have been closed since mid-March.
A subcommittee within Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force has begun meeting to discuss ways to reopen attractions in the state, including theme parks. Members of the Industry Working Group include Visit Florida president and CEO Dana Young, Walt Disney World president Josh D’Amaro, Universal Orlando CEO John Sprouls as well as executives in the retail and transportation industry.
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During the tourism portion of the task force’s Wednesday’s meeting, Sprouls outlined some of Universal's plans to slowly reopen. Some of those plans include increased sanitation throughout the park, increased use of Universal’s virtual line system, and added social-distancing measures.
Sprouls also outlined a number of options Universal is considering such as screening employees who come in contact with guests every day, encouraging guests to wear face masks, and disinfecting rides and attractions throughout the day. Many of the scenarios Sprouls mentioned were similar to the possibilities included in a Universal survey distributed over the weekend.
“We’ve got multiple teams working on a number of different scenarios,” Sprouls said. “And the guiding point is we’re going to be guided by state and local officials and health officers in terms of any type of opening scenario to make sure we can keep our team members and guests safe.”
Leaders on the committee have been told Florida’s hospitality and tourism industry should reopen gradually. The shutdown has taken a toll not just on theme parks but also hotels. Florida hotels have seen a $1.6 billion drop in revenue over the past six weeks, Visit Florida CEO Young said in a Tuesday meeting.
Young said in order to get tourism numbers back up, people will have to feel it’s safe to travel. To help with that, Visit Florida is working on a multi-phase campaign, with the first part focused on Florida residents, encouraging them to visit state attractions.
“We believe that the best way to immediately help is for the entire tourism industry, led by Visit Florida, to encourage Floridians to support local businesses by taking an in-state vacation," Young said.
The subcommittee will report to an executive committee and meet throughout the week.
The task force is expected to send recommendations to DeSantis by Friday.