Here you can find the latest stories and announcements from the Florida Attractions Association.
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
Since the creation of the Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation nearly nine years ago, the Foundation and its Board of Directors - made up of attractions industry professionals from across the state - have awarded scholarships to students pursuing degrees in hospitality-related fields. Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, four students were awarded $2,000 each in 2020 to go toward their continuing education.
Today, the Foundation Board is proud to announce that because of the ongoing generosity of our Florida Attractions Association members, the Foundation will be able to award four - $2,000 scholarships again in 2021.
Scholarships awarded by the Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation are exclusively for employees or immediate family members of FAA member businesses.
On behalf of the Foundation Board of Directors, thank you for supporting the future of Florida's attractions industry by supporting the future hospitality workforce.
Congratulations to FAA lobbyist Jennifer Green, President of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee for being identified as one of only 16 small firm lobbyists in the United States to receive this recognition from the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics.
Nominees for this award were judged based on success during the pandemic, innovation, and character.
Read more here.
2021 Official Guide Map to Florida Attractions and 2021 South Florida Attractions Map Publishing Temporarily Suspended
The FAA’s two popular map products, the Official Guide Map to Florida Attractions and the Official South Florida Attractions Map will not be published for 2021. Based on the year-to-date demand for the 2020 maps, there will be sufficient inventory to carry us well into 2021. The FAA will continue to monitor map distribution and as Florida tourism recovers, we anticipate being back on schedule to publish our 2022 maps with advertising sales beginning late summer 2021.
Map advertisers recently received this letter with additional details on our map publishing strategy.
Since the pandemic struck Florida affecting all of our FAA member businesses, many of our professional colleagues have lost their jobs as a result of the damage to Florida’s tourism industry. These reductions, though painful, are sometimes necessary as businesses must manage their expenses and remain vigilant in this difficult economy to ensure recovery and long-term viability.
The FAA is more than a trade association, it is a family of business professionals dedicated to our industry and more importantly, to each other.
We’re Still Family is a new FAA program to help our industry stay in touch with colleagues whose positions have been eliminated during the pandemic. Our goal is twofold. When the FAA receives an inquiry from a business seeking suggestions for candidates for an open position, we will know who may be available and how to contact them. Also, we simply would like a way to stay in touch, and invite our industry friends to participate in future FAA events.
How does it work? Simply forward this email to the personal email address of any former work colleague who you believe might be interested in staying in touch with the FAA family. If they’d like, they can email the FAA (info@FloridaAttractions.org) from their personal email address with "We’re Still Family" in the subject line and we’ll correspond with them adding them to our database of friends who are looking for new opportunities and ensure they stay connected with FAA’s communications and invitations for future FAA events.
One day, we will look back at these difficult times and celebrate our resiliency. Until then, ensure our industry’s most precious resource - our people - stay connected, because even though our employment circumstances may be different, We’re Still Family.
The 2020 Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament, presented by Expedia Group, has been cancelled this year due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The Foundation and Association looks forward to presenting the golf tournament when circumstances allow a safe and profitable event.
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