A year ago, no one would have imagined the disruption we would soon experience. This pandemic speaks to the fragility of life, the value of friends and family and the interdependence of community. We have all suffered loss and experienced goodwill of people who otherwise may never have crossed our path.
Our Florida attractions industry has stood the test of the pandemic. We have granted relief to our communities, serving them in numerous ways and providing a brief escape, creating positive memories, and sharing the joy of natural and manmade wonders.
As we continue through the pandemic, your Florida Attractions Association, like our members, has evolved. Please take a moment to read this…
As the reality of the pandemic set in, the FAA shifted gears, operating with extraordinary flexibility to purposefully serve our industry. Facilitating communication with and between our members became paramount. We launched a series of webinars and conference calls to share the state of industry, best practices, and intel. Over the past 9 months, 15 of these webinars have been offered to our members. Our webinar archive is here.
The FAA is well-recognized at our state capitol, however the pandemic required your association to engage at the federal level, lobbying Florida’s Congressional delegation to support stimulus programs to provide relief for our member businesses. The CARES Act, EIDL and Payroll Protection Program were essential to our member’s business continuation. Keeping our member’s informed with the process for tapping into federal and state programs was crucial.
Perhaps the greatest challenge your association faced was working with elected officials and public servants helping them understand the diverse nature of our industry and terminology to define us. The use of ambiguous terms created a fiasco that was aggressively addressed by the FAA. Labels such as “Amusement Parks” and “Theme Parks” were often used in Executive Orders with no definition nor awareness of the limitation of those terms. The application of Executive Orders became muddled. The FAA worked with the Governor’s office to interpret intent and then assist dozens of Florida counties and municipalities with accurate interpretation of each Executive Order’s objective.
The FAA was the first to draft an industry Best Practices Guide for reopening.
Through our lobby team at Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, the FAA was in direct contact with Governor DeSantis’ team to query his staff on your questions and to clarify Executive Orders.
The FAA worked confidentially with dozens of our members to assist them in dealing with their unique operational and local government issues during the pandemic.
The FAA interceded on behalf of our members to influence county government decisions to reopen our facilities based on the soundest protocols.
The FAA communicated every step of the way to keep you informed, to ask for your advocacy action and assist you with reopening your businesses.
The FAA paused dues collection and worked with individual member businesses requiring assistance with retaining their membership.
The FAA temporarily suspended reciprocal benefit programs that would cause an additional burden on already stressed members.
The FAA hosted four in-person Networking Nights – for many participants, the first opportunity they had to network with their fellow industry professionals “masked face-to-face” since the beginning of the pandemic.
The FAA made appropriate reductions in our expenses and our staff has been reduced to two, with some services being outsourced.
Our Board of Directors has been active in monitoring the industry and ensuring the FAA is aggressively meeting the needs of our members.
As vaccines are administered and there is renewed hope for “light at the end of the tunnel”, the FAA has switched gears again and is moving full speed into the new year.
Because of the generosity of our members even during a pandemic, the Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation has been able to fully fund our scholarship programs for 2021. This year, six, $2000 scholarships will be awarded – a record amount. These scholarships are available exclusively to the employees and their dependents of our FAA members. Applications will be accepted during February.
Our Attraction Regional Forum will be presented – in virtual format – on February 11. Registration begins next week. This will not be a typical “Zoomish” webinar. Every participant will be actively engaged as if we were together in person in a new and unique virtual environment hosted by Gatherly. This year, for the first time, Associate members will be joining Attraction members as we work together to rebuild our industry and tourism economy.
Florida Tourism Day will not be held in Tallahassee this year; however, our industry will host Florida Attractions District Day on February 26. We will invite your county’s Legislative Delegation to your attraction for educational tours and inform them of the importance of supporting Florida’s tourism industry while in Legislative Session in Tallahassee which begins March 2.
Our 2021 Annual Conference will be a bit later, but in person, August 29 – September 1 at the beautiful, new Luminary Resort in downtown Fort Myers.
We resumed our attractionShare benefit in October and will be expanding that program for participating Primary Attractions on February 1.
Also for our Primary Attractions, the VIP Benefit Program will relaunch on a limited basis on February 16.
Thank you for taking time to read this report. In my 45 years working in the attraction industry, there’s never been a time like this. “Unprecedented” doesn’t do justice to defining what we’ve been through. There’s been more attraction-to-attraction interaction than ever before and the collaboration between our members has been profound. Your vigilance, adaptability, resilience, and strength are an inspiration. The “FAA spirit” is alive and flourishing.
Your FAA staff (Mike & I) appreciate your support, patience, and encouragement. Our hope is that our collective efforts will yield a speedier recovery and ultimately a healthier industry moving forward.
We’re here for you. Let us know if we can serve you.
Florida Attractions Association