RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond region saw a decrease in travel spending by 87 percent during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Richmond Region Tourism.
Since April, traveling during the pandemic has slowly increased.
"Since then we've learned to adjust. Looking back at the occupancies back in April, We were 31 percent, and now in August which is our most recent numbers we're at 50 percent," said Jack Berry, President and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism.
As of October, consumer confidence in travel is steadily returning. Berry tells CBS 6, its due to safety. He also shares how Richmond has a strong visitor return and even during the pandemic that will play a part in sustainability.
"That is the threshold. That they're margin of safety is met, they will travel... Even in the pandemic, we have provided hand sanitizer, we have plaques and on the website we have discount cards.. We just make it really welcoming, even in the pandemic the customer services is over the top," said Berry.
Richmond's tourism economy is unique compared to neighboring regions.
There are four pillars to Richmond region tourism:
- Business travel
- Meetings/conventions and sporting events
- Family and friends travel
- Tourism in general
These four pillars have been able to sustain and bring back the region's travel economy during times of crisis, i.e. after September 11, when no one wanted to travel or when banks collapsed during the 2008 recession.
And even during the pandemic, Richmond Region Tourism has put safe plans in motion for when you're ready to travel and for their 10 year master plan, to help in safely increase the return in hotel demand, and leisure and hospitality.
By the second half of 2021, its expected for hotel demand to reach full normalcy and full recovery by 2023.
This year alone leisure and hospitality lost 10 percent of jobs.
"More jobs than any other segment in our local economy," said Cameron McPherson, APR Account director with The Hodges Partnership .
"For economic rebound, its critical that leisure and travel industry is at the forefront of recovery strategies."
The percent positivity in COVID-19 numbers as of October 13, are now below five percent. But state officials continue to remind residents to remain cautious, especially as the colder and holiday months begin to roll in.
"For your own peace of mind wear masks when you travel. Wash you're hands and again we emphasize this. It can't be stated enough, is that only travelers will come back when they feel safe," said Berry.
Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.