How DMOs are Helping Their Local Communities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

CVBs in Miami, Tampa, Fla., and Little Rock, Ark., are going above and beyond to assist first responders, businesses in need and more.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau's Miami Salutes program aims to assist essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite facing unprecedented pressures of their own, destination marketing organizations continue to be a source of strength, knowledge and support to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. A number of CVBs, including the three profiled below, have gone a step further to show gratitude and ease the pain of their local cities and citizens.

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched Miami Salutes, a program that calls on hotels, restaurants and retailers to extend special offers to hospital workers, medical professionals, firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers and National Guard members during the pandemic. From free pizza, doughnuts and coffee, to deep discounts on meals and wireless services, the program provides a regularly updated list of special offers on a dedicated GMCVB web page.

"We know that our front-line and first responders are working tirelessly to help and protect all of us, and their efforts are likely to escalate in the coming days and weeks," said William D. Talbert, III, president and CEO of the GMCVB. "We are proud to bring together Greater Miami’s hospitality industry to support these public servants and show our appreciation in any way possible."

Miami Salutes is just one of the programs put together by the GMCVB in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Other initiatives include the Miami Pandemic Response Fund, a partnership between the GMCVB, United Way of Miami-Dade and other local organizations that supports hospitality workers and their families with emergency needs including food, supplies, utilities, rent/mortgage assistance and microgrants.

Visit Tampa Bay

With food insecurity becoming a growing issue due to the pandemic, Visit Tampa Bay partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay, and pledged 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of its twin culinary journals – Tampa’s Table and Tampa With A Twist – to assist local families in need of food aid. The limited-time bundle, priced at $20, is currently available at Visit Tampa Bay’s online store.

To help navigate the many issues COVID-19 brings to their respective communities, the bureau spearheaded a group of regional tourism bodies (Visit St. Pete/Clearwater; Florida's Sports Coast; Visit Sarasota County; Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Paradise Coast; The Beaches of Ft. Myers and Sanibel, and Adventure Coast) for weekly discussions.  During these sessions, the DMOs brainstorm and share best practices for handling the crisis.

Additionally, with hundreds of Bay-area businesses facing economic hardship, the bureau has pledged to waive any outstanding partner dues until the end of its fiscal year, October 2020. 

"These initiatives are just the beginning for Visit Tampa Bay, because the fight for tourism is far from over," said Visit Tampa Bay president & CEO Santiago T. Corrada. "The unprecedented effects on the industry have rippled into every corner of the global economy and there is much more work to get done. Through all the uncertainty, one thing remains crystal clear – Tampa Bay will rebound as one family and one community, and when the crisis is over, the tourism industry will be at the forefront of its recovery."

Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau has taken a lead role in the Arkansas capital by providing support, comfort and relief to its partners, its community and it residents. "At our core, we are here to serve and support our community," said Gretchen Hall, LRCVB president and CEO. "During these times of hardship for us all, LRCVB has worked to be resourceful and creative in developing ways to continue to support our local industry partners, promote our statewide businesses and nonprofit organizations, and provide some respite while people are home with their families."

One way the CVB is helping out: The net proceeds of its "Big on Little Rock" t-shirts ($20) goes directly to the city’s Little Rock Cares COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help provide daily meals for city students while schools are closed and to assist with the purchase of personal protective equipment for local hospitals and first responders.

Along with local charities, LRCVB employees are volunteering to prepare meals for local students, elderly residents and families in need. The DMO also has donated the use of its company van for meal deliveries throughout Little Rock. To date, more than 100,000 meals have been prepared and delivered.