Letter to the Editor: Use CARES funds to promote tourism in Delaware

As the tragic impact of the COVID-19 virus continues to devastate health and business in Delaware, there is some good news to be shared with future travelers to our state. The election of Delaware’s own Joe Biden as president has brought national and international attention to our great state. Over the past months, the Democratic National Convention and the presidential election have attracted thousands of people here, and millions have seen the press coverage on television, the internet, travel magazines and other media.

While we know travel to Delaware destinations will not occur immediately, we should be building awareness for the future, as Americans and international guests recover and travel.

The availability of CARES funds could be used to rapidly increase tourism marketing efforts for all parts of Delaware! Jobs and economic recovery would follow! The impact of hotel occupancy drops in the range of 70% has dramatically reduced the state and county lodging tax that is the primary means of financing tourism marketing for all parts of Delaware.

Other parts of the Northeast — namely the Pennsylvania locales of Lancaster, Philadelphia, Montgomery County and Bucks County — are using CARES funds allocated from state and county governments to “invest” in tourism. Delaware and New Castle County could do the same, as there are funds that need to be spent by the end of 2020.

We are the perfect “drive” destination for the Northeast Corridor, and as the impact of the virus is mitigated, we are ready to safely and securely welcome guests to our hotels, restaurants, parks and attractions.

We request that our distinguished leaders, Gov. John Carney and New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer, act rapidly to partner with the tourism industry. The time to act is now!

Delaware Hotel & Lodging Association board of directors:
Bill Silva, board chairperson
Bill Sullivan, chair, Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau
Dr. Sri Beldona, chair, University of Delaware Hospitality Business Management Program
Sarah Willoughby, executive director, executive director, Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau
Scott Thomas, executive director, Southern Delaware Tourism