SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As more businesses and venues prepare to re-open for the spring the question now is how is Springfield going to handle tourists? And should people consider traveling right now?
The health department doesn’t suggest traveling, but at the same time, with not many business trips or meetings on the calendar this spring, the Bureau is one month away from introducing a new program.
“We have about 6,300 hotel rooms here in Springfield,” President and CEO of Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau Tracy Kimberlin said. “Here in Greene County, there were about 22,000 people employed in the travel industry.”
When the pandemic hit Greene County, Kimberlin says 10,000 people lost their jobs.
“It’s the hardest-hit industry out there,” Kimberlin said. “You can see the impact that’s had locally not just on the travel industry but on the community at large.”
In hopes of jumpstarting the travel economy, he plans to introduce a promotion sometime after April 1.
“If people come to Springfield, spend two nights in a hotel, go to at least three attractions and three restaurants then we will buy one of their nights in a hotel, up to $100,” Kimberlin said.
The offer will be available until June 27, and it will focus on outdoor activities.
“The other participating attractions are following very closely the recommended protocols for safety,” Kimberlin said. “All the hotels that are participants in the program, they have standards in place.”
All things considered, the CDC and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department don’t recommend traveling right now.
“We continue to recommend taking those precautions that we know we need to take because at this point we are still in this pandemic, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Kathryn Wall with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said. “A lot of us are excited but we are still in this.”
Wall says this is a wait-and-see situation, since COVID-19 cases are unpredictable.
But, if you have to travel, she suggests thinking of some precautions you can take.
“Thinking of something like car travel vs. air travel,” Wall said. “With a car situation, if it’s you and someone you live with, that’s going to be a different situation than maybe being in a plane with a group of other people that aren’t from your household.”
And doing some research on your destination helps.
“Make sure you’re aware of where you’re going and what that circumstance looks like,” Wall said.
Even as COVID-19 cases drop and vaccine numbers rise in Greene County, Wall wants people to continue being careful.
As for the Bureau, Kimberlin says it will spend around $1.5 million in grants on its new program.