How Do Cities Bring Back Tourism?
For certain U.S. cities that rely on tourism revenue, 2020 was a devastating blow. But they’re finally bouncing back thanks to creative ingenuity.
Around the country, cities are recovering from a devastating year for business travel and tourism. Perhaps the biggest change? They’re finally showcasing the history of all the people who built them. In early March 2020, Van Johnson, the mayor of Savannah, Ga., decided to cancel the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration because of the threat of coronavirus. St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Savannah, a weekend festival that brings in millions of dollars of revenue for the city’s bars, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. For Joe Marinelli, the president of Visit Savannah, the city’s convention and visitors bureau (CVB), the cancellation was not just a huge economic hit, but a warning sign of things to come. Visit Savannah’s mission—like that of similar organizations in every state and big city around the country—is to drive visitation to its city through tourism, business travel and conventions. There isn’t a city in the country that doesn’t depend on visitation for revenue, tax dollars and jobs, so these organizations are important. And in Savannah, a beautiful city with an inviting blend of history, character and culture, tourism is the single biggest industry. But how could Marinelli promote visitation to a city in lockdown?