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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 5, 2020 1 month ago

Long, drawn-out recovery expected in wake of COVID-19 crisis

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A survey of Tampa Bay residents reveals the extent of the pandemic's hardship, but also optimism.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, the Tampa Bay Partnership has conducted an ongoing series of public sentiment surveys intended to provide a snapshot of how COVID-19 has affected residents of the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater metro area personally and financially, as well as how they expect conditions to improve — or not. 

In a community forum held via Zoom and facilitated by Tampa Bay Partnership President and CEO Rick Homans, community leaders discussed the survey results, which were compiled by Downs & St. Germain Research. That firm’s president, Joseph St. Germain, participated in the Zoom meeting. He predicted a long, drawn-out recovery for Florida’s tourism-reliant economy. 

“Anything related to tourism is going to be lower the rest of the year and into next year,” St. Germain says. “It would be great to get back to our previous levels in 2022, but 2023 is more likely. It’s going to be a slow recovery, much slower than originally expected. It’ll be 2022 or 2023 before we get back to previous levels of record tourism.” 

There was some good news. For example, despite the hardships they’ve endured, 25% of Tampa Bay residents who participated in the public sentiment survey believe the COVID-19 crisis is near its end. That’s up sharply from April 2, when just 3% felt that the crisis was winding down. On the other hand, a clear majority of respondents — 58% — believe social-distancing measures should continue indefinitely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if that means businesses will suffer and jobs will be lost. 

To view the full report, visit www.bit.ly/2MaahIx. 

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