Local tourism picking up

The newly constructed Hyatt House sits on the corner of Railroad Avenue and t he round-about. Photo by Kylii Clay

Florida’s strong return to consumerism as the coronavirus pandemic appears to wane has allowed the travel business to prevail. In Tallahassee specifically, there has been a steady increase in travelers over the past few months, according to the Leon County Division of Tourism.

 Dionte Gavin is the senior operations manager at Visit Tallahassee/Leon County Division of Tourism. He says the tourism industry has first-hand experience on the ruinous economic result of the pandemic. 

“Last year was the toughest year our destination hotels, restaurants, retail, museums and attractions has ever endured. Some businesses didn’t survive, others are barely hanging on, and the early ‘adapters’ are finally seeing signs of growth,” Gavin said. “Yet, optimism for the future of tourism in Tallahassee remains steadfast. Tallahassee is without a doubt, one of the most creative, innovative, resilient and sustainable destinations in America.”

The recent surge in optimism can be largely credited to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many citizens believe that it is now safer as COVID-19 restrictions loosen, and people are putting traveling back on their to-do lists. 

Warm vacation spots have been a target as winter storms spread throughout the north. Visit Tallahassee is capitalizing on outdoor activities and amenities since they have become more in demand because of the coronavirus, making Tallahassee a top pick for some. 

“With our many outdoor amenities and offers, Tallahassee continues to be a desirable destination for safe travel and our new hotel products certainly help,” Gavin said. “In the past year, three new hotels have or are scheduled to open including the Hotel Indigo, our first Hyatt property, the Hyatt House and the AC Hotel that will open at Cascades Park this spring. These properties, located in a variety of districts offer multiple green spaces, outdoor dining options, patio space, rooftop bars and easy walking distance to multiple restaurants, entertainment and retail stores.”

Sydney Lewis resides in North Florida and has attended an Infinity Con Tallahassee event.

“Infinity Con Tallahassee is a wonderful family event that started in 2019. It couldn’t happen last year for obvious reasons, but it’s coming back and it is going to be amazing,” Lewis said. 

However, there are people who don’t agree that this is the place to be quite yet. Tallahassee resident Daniel Hernandez has family from Miami that comes to visit. He says they always end up traveling out of town instead of staying in Tallahassee.  

“The only reason to really come from out of town other than if you’re a student, is if you have family here, a child that’s a student here or if you’re coming for some kind of political reason,” Hernandez said.

Gavin said that these predictions stem from spring weather attracting people here and the fact that Florida A&M University and Florida State University decided to host in-person graduations next month. This includes a ceremony for FAMU’s 2020 graduates in the summer. 

He says this will provide a steady stream of visitors over a longer period of time than past graduations.