COVID-19 Survey: Destination Organizations Expect ‘Extreme Impact’ Over Next 6 Months

Author: Michelle Russell       

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Destination organizations continue to play a role in reassuring the traveling public, a new survey found.

If there is any doubt about how quickly the COVID-19 crisis is changing the North American DMO landscape, the results of a second biweekly survey of destination marketing organizations, released by MMGY Travel Intelligence in partnership with Destinations International Foundation, clears that up. As a press release on the results reports: “In the span of about two weeks, the reverberations of the pandemic dramatically changed the sector’s outlook, operations, and marketing spending.”

Some key changes between the first wave, released March 9, and the second, published on March 23:

  • The expectations destination organizations had of the coronavirus on local tourism economies went from a sense of uncertainty in the first survey to a strong expectation of extreme impact over the next six months.
  • The percentage of destinations reporting coronavirus-related postponements and/or cancellations of conferences, meetings, or events surged from under 40 percent to almost 100 percent.
  • Around 35 percent of destination organizations are now creating a pandemic emergency plan, compared to less than 10 percent two weeks ago.
  • Destination organizations continue to play a role in reassuring the traveling public, including sharing information with partners and posting information about COVID-19 from the CDC and other sources on their websites and sending out dedicated email updates to potential travelers.

“Destination organizations not only serve as representatives for the broader travel industry, but as stewards of their communities,” Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer for the Destinations International Foundation, said in the press release. “This study allows us to support these organizations by creating a tool that shares up-to-date detail on how their peers are managing through this ever-changing process.”

“This is a rapidly evolving situation for our industry, and it’s important for destinations to make decisions based on facts and hard data as they begin to prepare recovery strategies,” added Craig Compagnone, chief operating officer for MMGY Global. “While there is no precedent for this situation, we know that travel has spiked following previous crises, and data will help influence how destinations keep travelers and communities informed until travel restrictions are eased and bookings return.”

The full report can be downloaded at the MMGY Travel Intelligence website.

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene magazine.


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