MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As Alabama begins to further reopen, the hospitality industry is looking at ways to move forward from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar called “Marching On Together” Tuesday, and people from around the state tuned in. Tourism is a vital part of the local and state economies, and in Montgomery alone lodging taxes dropped 39 percent in March and April.
Hotels in Montgomery have been in the 20 percent occupancy rate; normally, they run between 70 and 80 percent.
Tourism officials are getting more creative in finding ways to bring people in; panelists at the webinar spoke about how to adapt to this new normal.
“Creativity is going to be key to how you come through this, and to be willing to change,” said Dawn Hathcock, Senior Vice President of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “And I think you know if you don’t change, you die. So, I think we’re going to have to step up and do things a little bit differently than we’ve done.”
“Quit looking at it ‘when will we get back to normal,’” said Berkely Young, President and Owner of Young Strategies, Inc. “People ask me when will we get back to normal. And my answer is if we don’t get through the next few months, who cares what’s going to happen in 2021? We’ve got to take care of now. We’ve got to get some businesses working. We’ve got to start wading in the waters, getting some things back to a new normal and getting some business moving.”
Hathcock said the chamber is working with events that had to cancel in Montgomery to bring them back at a later date.