Visit Tampa Bay teams up with Airbnb to help local tourism rebound, recover from effects of pandemic

Tourism, one of Florida's top and growing industries pre-COVID-19, is beginning to pick up after taking a massive economic hit during the early months of the pandemic. 

As visitors return to contribute to a slow-but-sure recovery, Visit Tampa Bay is teaming up with Airbnb on its recently launched new pilot project called City Portal to track and better understand the visitor experience. The City of Tampa was chosen as one of 15 pilot cities for the research initiative.

City Portal was created exclusively for governments and tourism organizations to help boost recovery and keep with its seminal mission of providing a source of income for Airbnb hosts.
“We’ve had a strong relationship with Airbnb for years, so this partnership was a natural fit," says Santiago C. Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. "At Visit Tampa Bay, we always strive to be pioneers and trendsetters in the industry, so when we’re asked to do something that’s never been done before, we are excited to sign up.”

“Tourism is at the forefront of Hillsborough County’s economic recovery, and the Airbnb City Portal provides us with valuable insights into travel trends in the Tampa Bay area, which is helpful as we navigate the path to tourism recovery.”

Corrada shares that the U.S. Travel Association projected an estimated $505 billion in losses for the industry and 8 million jobs lost nationwide, many small businesses. "In Tampa Bay, it’s left our hotel occupancy down, but better than most [other cities] ... an impact that could have been much worse without our recovery efforts.”

Tampa Bay's government leaders and tourism organizations looked to Airbnb for assistance in post-pandemic planning. They sought real-time, actionable insights to better understand the Airbnb landscape within their communities, technical support and resources to leverage tourism to rebuild their community’s tourism economy, and tools for regulatory compliance.

City Portal addresses those needs with tools and localized data, resources such as the Airbnb Neighborhood Support hotline and law enforcement portal, and direct access to an Airbnb team member who can provide support with the City Portal or local issues.
“This new portal is a gamechanger," says Corrada. "Now that we are able to see what occupancy looks like in our neighborhoods, we’ll have a better idea of where our visitors are coming from, where they’re staying and how they’re impacting our county’s economy.”

Corrada looks forward to what the partnership's long-term results will bring. He says Visit Tampa Bay anticipates an increase in popularity for Airbnb vacation rentals, given the current circumstances brought forth by the pandemic.

"Vacation rentals lend themselves well to physical distancing, smaller group sizes, and even dining options," he says. "We’re excited to see how that translates into statistical figures in this new dashboard as we work to understand our tourism landscape better and move toward continued recovery.”

Learn more at Visit Tampa Bay and City Portal.


Read more articles by Allison Koehler.

Allison Koehler is a Cleveland-area native who now lives in Tampa by way of Detroit. She resides in Seminole Heights with her partner, Phil, and three children -- one human and two cats. When she isn't writing, she's watching pro football, listening to music, or streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime. 
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