TAMPA BAY — Landmarks across the Bay area are supporting each other by participating in The U.S. Travel Association's National Travel and Tourism Week.

  • Regional webinar will take the place of rallies, meetings
  • Area businesses, landmarks lighting up red to commemorate week
  • Share images of landmarks on social media with hashtags #SpiritofTravel, #BrighterDaysAhead

Usually, the week is full of networking through rallies and meetings. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, there's a virtual approach.

"Yes, we're celebrating at a time when this industry is down but I think more importantly hopefully it recognizes what all of these folks do to support our community and how important they are," said Steve Hayes, President & CEO, of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Moving forward with solidarity

More than 150,000 people rely on the tourism and travel industry in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and it's responsible for billions of dollars in revenues and sales tax.

The industry has been hard hit during the COVID-19 crisis but Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and Visit Tampa Bay are moving forward with solidarity, showing encouragement that brighter days are ahead.

“It has been a very trying time for the tourism industry,” says Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “The global health crisis has challenged us in ways our industry has never seen, but it has also made some things crystal clear: travel is critically important to not only our economy, but also humanity. Lighting in red pays homage to that philosophy.”

The movement is in partnership with Visit St. Pete Clearwater which joins Visit Tampa Bay in celebrating tourism for the Bay area as a united region.

"With more than 100,000 people employed by tourism, it's the number one employer in Pinellas County," says Steve Hayes, President and CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. "This effort demonstrates the St. Pete/Clearwater community standing as one to honor those in the travel and tourism industry, and coming together to show the importance of travel to this destination."

Safety is key

Hayes says he does know coming out of this pandemic things will be done differently. He believes the travel industry will adapt and will continue to be successful.

He says safety is key.

"Making the traveler and those even locally who want to go and visit places feel safe and comfortable in the place that they’re and then conveying that,' said Hayes.

Local businesses that light up red are asked to share with #SpiritOfTravel and #BrighterDaysAhead.

Landmarks participating in the lighting include:

  • City of Tampa
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Tampa Riverwalk
  • David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
  • Sunshine Skyway Bridge
  • The Dali Museum
  • The James Museum
  • Mahaffey Theatre
  • Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete