Normally busy downtown streets are virtually empty during rush hour due to coronavirus fears on March 12, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore / Getty Images) It’s an organization that exists to promote tourism in Seattle and the surrounding area, but Visit Seattle supports the travel advisory issued by Governor Inslee, along with the governors of Oregon and California. The recommendation asks residents not to travel or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the state. “I think the governor’s recommended quarantine is a smart and wise move… it’s a good first step,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. “We built this, unfortunately, over the last month.” If you have to travel for the holidays, “ be aware of the risks involved. ” He said Visit Seattle and the industry realize infection control is the only way to work towards a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel . Norwalk believes another lockdown is “one way, if at all,” but if science deems it necessary, it will back it as well. Throughout the duration of the pandemic, Visit Seattle has stepped back from its normal marketing activities and taken the same stance as the governor. “It’s the hardest thing we’ve had to do – we’re basically a marketing and promotion entity, cheerleaders for this area, for travel, at all costs, and so we spent eight months not to encourage non-essential travel, to cancel national conventions that were to be held in our city and region, ”said Norwalk. “It’s the opposite of what we normally do… we agree with the leaders at the city, county and state level, so we haven’t been promoting travel.” Helping Support Seattle Businesses It was a devastating decision, Norwalk said, because the organization exists to encourage people to visit Seattle and its businesses. Instead, they strongly encourage residents to head downtown, shop locally, and support small businesses that are struggling to survive. “We have gone through eight and a half months painfully of really seeing travel and tourism completely disappear,” Norwalk said. “There are a number of us who didn’t think we would be in quite the same situation eight months later, so the financial difficulties and the impact are definitely there.” The hotels, restaurants and shops that depend on visitors have had an uphill battle throughout the spring, summer and fall. With international travel at a standstill, cruises non-existent, and people all over the world staying at home, there has been very little tourism in Seattle. Norwalk reported that as of last week, downtown hotels were at 17% occupancy; a year ago at the same time, they were at 90%. $ 3.4 billion drop The Washington Hospitality Association reported that hospitality fell more than 50% statewide from April to June, a drop of $ 3.4 billion. Hotels were hit the hardest during this period, dropping nearly 80%. The association estimates that more than a third of the state’s restaurants will have to close their doors – even without another lockdown. The new virtual vacation thinking line this year is a change from the more optimistic look some people may have had two months ago when new cases were on the decline, Norwalk said. “A lot of us grew up here and did holiday shows or roasted chestnuts outside the Olympic hotel, or gingerbread houses, and I think that changes a lot this year,” he said. he declares. This adjustment to the holidays is a very difficult reality for small businesses who were hoping that the holiday season, with Christmas shopping and out of town parents, could bring much needed commerce. “It’s going to be a different year – and that’s a very difficult thing to understand if you’re a trading trader who waits and patiently tries to find a way to survive eight and a half months of what we spent, for some type of sign. recovery, ”Norwalk said. Hope for Seattle in 2021 In the meantime, he hopes for another stimulus package from Congress. “It would be extremely helpful for our industry in particular,” he said. “I think travel and tourism have been affected disproportionately, in terms of unemployment and business closures.” Still, the outlook for the post-pandemic future is bright. Norwalk said Seattle has grown at an extremely rapid pace as an international tourist destination over the past decade. Visit Seattle is optimistic that next year, as people are eager to resume travel, Seattle will see a surge in tourism. “As we become more secure, that need and desire to travel will be there… Travel will not go away forever,” Norwalk said. .