By Alberto Domingo Carreiro
Miami, United States, Jun 8 (efe-epa).- Tourists have started returning to Florida after lockdown, with hotels in Miami Beach welcoming them with open arms and strict hygiene measures.
Recovery is going to be slow and the holidaymakers who have come to the Sunshine State during the first phase of de-escalation have mainly come from elsewhere in the country.
Tourism is one of the most important economic engines and generators of employment in Florida and has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the Covid-19 crisis.
Bernardo Naval, director of the Hotel Riu Plaza Miami Beach, says: “Recovering the figures we had before the pandemic will be difficult and will take months but what we have done has been to change the market.
“Before 90 or 80 percent were either European and South American and now we are concentrating on the local market, which is what will be feeding us in the coming months.”
The hotel, a 1950s building on the beachfront on the touristy Collins Avenue, reopened its doors last week for the first time in more than two months.
Before the pandemic there were 747,000 tourism-dependent jobs in Florida and it is estimated that more than 336,400 will be lost due to the impact of Covid-19, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).
The organization warns that the effect of the outbreak will be nine times higher than the 11 September terrorist attacks in 2001.
Florida is no exception, although its hoteliers are trying to make the most of the state’s reopening.
Naval says: “A lot of people want to get away from their homes after several months of lockdown, enjoy the good weather and more in south Florida, which is the quintessential vacation destination in the United States.”