On florida’s historic coast businesses are open and welcoming guests.
Facemasks are mandated in the City of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach. Ponte Vedra Beach and the rest of our county does not mandate them but businesses ask that visitors and community members wear them. County-wide there is a pledge commitment that local businesses make to adhere to CDC guidelines and ensure our residents, visitors, and employees are safe and comfortable while in their establishment. These guidelines include cleaning and disinfecting protocols, group size limitations, social distancing recommendations, and enhanced employee protocols and training.
Most restaurants are open and business is great. Indoor dining is running at 35% occupancy and most have outdoor seating, provide social distance dinging, and almost all offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Area hotels, motels, and resorts are open. Services like turndown and daily room cleanings are minimized. Our beachside resorts and hotels are no taller than four stories, allowing them to blend into the natural landscape, and they do not block the late-day sun, allowing beachgoers to enjoy long relaxing days in the sand and sun. No High-rise buildings here. Vacation rentals and campgrounds are at near-capacity – all popular choices normally, but even more so this year.
We keep a link called What’s Open on our home page, www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, that links to a real-time updated list of open businesses, along with current COVID case reporting.
All major events in the destination through November have been either canceled or postponed into 2021 and beyond. There are a few music performances scheduled for this Fall at open venues like the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
As a DMO, we were out in front developing and providing resources to our businesses to stay open and operate safely. The number 1 industry in our community is hospitality. Our one-stop resource center to provide our tourism stakeholders the tools needed for success was launched in April when Florida entered phase one of re-opening. Since that time, the toolkit provided for our partner businesses has been updated and additional programs have been added. www.floridashistoriccoast.com/partners/covid-19-partner-recovery-toolkit/industry-marketing-resources/
While Florida has seen spikes in the number of cases of Covid-19, Florida’s Historic Coast has experienced a slight increase in the number of cases reported.
We are currently promoting our destination as an ideal place to visit for outdoor experiences and wide-open spaces for hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, and seaside escapes. We have several outdoor museums/attractions like the Colonial Quarter, and Old Town Trolley and St. Augustine Sightseeing Tours, The Alligator Farm, The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, and others where our visitors can have exceptional experiences and learn more about the First American History.
The numbers show how people are returning to carefully experience the destination. While our hotel occupancy bottomed out in April to 15.5%, we have been seeing a gradual increase. According to Smith Travel Report, hotel occupancy rose to 36% in May, and to 53% in June. While that was down 27% compared to last year, it was significantly better than the overall rate in Florida (41%) or the nation (42%). In July, our beachside properties reported 80—100% occupancy on the weekends. Many of the lodging managers are claiming, that even though business was down this summer, they were pleasantly surprised