Dear Partners:

These are difficult times for all of us. I know you’ve all been impacted, to some degree, and there remains tremendous uncertainty as to what the future holds. It is now, more than ever, that Visit San Antonio hopes to be a partner to you as you navigate these challenges.

As an organization, we have made some tough decisions. For example, with many of San Antonio’s assets closed, travel being strongly discouraged by officials and shelter-in-place restrictions in effect, we have stopped our external messaging in our marketing for the time being. Additionally, we have temporarily shuttered our Visitor Information Center, though we’re still serving our customers through virtual channels.

Like most of you, we have halted all travel, are going through some internal budget examinations and Visit San Antonio team members have a mandate to work from home. We have been proactive in our communication with clients, media and other stakeholders, and are eyeing future business as best we can. While no one has a crystal ball for the future, we are determined to be well-positioned to join the hospitality industry in being a spearhead for recovery in San Antonio at the right time.

Even as we work through those expectations, we have turned our attention to being good community partners. U.S. Travel estimates that the hospitality industry will lose 5.9 million jobs nationwide by May – an economic impact of $809 billion to the American economy Read more – and we have certainly already seen the effects here in San Antonio. As a result, we are continuing to provide links to job opportunities that you can share with any of your current or former staff that is looking for temporary employment help.

This includes:

We’ve also introduced on a webpage that showcases some of the alternative dining options – curbside pick-up, delivery, takeout, etc. – that some of our restaurants are employing during a time when their dining rooms have gone dark. View more.

Most importantly, we want to be a resource for you in any way we can. Feel free to reach out to me or any of our team members with any questions we can answer or needs we can meet.

While we know that our hotel numbers for March will be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 situation, we did enjoy a solid month in February. We experienced an increase of 2.5 percent in room rate and an increase of 1.2 percent in room demand, resulting in a hike of 3.7 percent in room revenue compared to the same period last year.

Nevertheless, the situation has evolved in recent weeks and Visit San Antonio has taken a proactive role in dealing with media inquiries regarding the effect of the outbreak. Visit San Antonio has spoken with nearly every print, broadcast and digital news outlet in the city. The pressing question, of course, has been what kind of economic impact will the hospitality industry – and, in turn, the community – weather because of COVID-19.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO & President Richard Perez, San Antonio Express-News business editor Greg Jefferson and UTSA economics professor Keith Phillips on the Texas Public Radio program, "The Source." I invite you to take a listen: Click here.

A few days ago, Visit San Antonio added its name to a letter from the U.S. Travel Association to congressional leaders calling for significant relief for the tourism and hospitality industry amid the coronavirus pandemic. Visit San Antonio submitted a Letter to the Editor on the topic that ran in the Express-News one week ago, and Roger Dow, president & CEO of U.S. Travel, appeared on Fox News on the same day to also support this effort: View here.

The efforts by Visit San Antonio, U.S. Travel and others appear to have paid off. The $2 trillion CARES Act to help impacted businesses and workers, the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history, will provide major support for the impacted hospitality industry. For example, the legislation includes actions for tax relief, aid to displaced workers and loans for affected small businesses. U.S. Travel noted late this week that the Act includes "major provisions … fought for to deliver economic support to travel businesses, travel workers and their families." Here’s a look at those provisions: Click here.

U.S. Travel is keeping a close eye on the legislation’s details, eligibility guidelines and how to access assistance. It is working with Congress and will update information as soon as it is available. Please monitor here: Click here.

Looking ahead, we have made the decision to cancel our Visit San Antonio Honors program, which was scheduled for mid-May. Instead, we will be handing out our annual honors, including the Con Corazon, Deep in the Heart: A Passion for Giving, Robert H.H. Hugman, El Campeon and CTA of the Year awards, during our Annual Meeting in September. More to come on that!

If you have any questions or suggestions for next month's newsletter, don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for your continued support!

Deep. In The Heart,

Casandra Matej, CDME, CTA
President & CEO
Visit San Antonio