The Tourism Industry: Headed For Recovery

U.S. domestic travel has almost returned to its pre-COVID levels, but business and international travel segments are seeing an uneven recovery.

By the BF Staff
From the November/December 2021 Issue

While domestic leisure travel has returned to near pre-pandemic levels in the United States, recovery has been uneven for the international inbound and business travel segments, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Based on analysis from Tourism Economics, the association’s biannual forecast was released just days after the U.S. reopened its land and air borders to vaccinated international visitors. It projects that domestic leisure travel will continue to drive the U.S. travel industry’s recovery in the near term, and is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and beyond.

Domestic business travel spending is expected to reach 76% of 2019 levels in 2022 while the segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024. International inbound travel spending is forecasted to reach 72% of 2019 levels in 2022. The segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024 or 2025.Tourism Industry

“While we see much reason for optimism on the horizon, our forecast reveals that travel’s recovery is uneven with much work ahead to ensure all segments reach pre-pandemic levels,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “We believe that the U.S. can implement smart, effective policies that bring back international visitors more quickly and spur business and professional travel to accelerate an economic and jobs rebound.”

Policies to accelerate the travel industry’s recovery include:

  • Fully reopen and resume visitor visa processing at U.S embassies and consulates
  • Ensure Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration officers are adequately resourced
  • Pass the Restoring Brand USA Act to provide emergency relief funding to Brand USA, the United States’ destination marketing organization
  • Enact temporary tax credits to restore demand for in-person professional meetings and events

“Stabilizing policies can help ensure a more even recovery as we aim to restore the U.S. as the top destination in the world for global travelers,” added Dow.

Dow also applauded the U.S. House of Representatives passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: “The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is both significant and long overdue. The bill will have a profound impact on how people travel for decades to come. By making historic investments in our transportation infrastructure now, we can emerge from the pandemic with stronger, more modern and efficient systems that can facilitate a resurgence in travel demand.

“U.S. Travel has strongly advocated for this important piece of legislation and championed these important policies for years. The historic levels of travel infrastructure investment provided by this act—including for airports, railways, highways, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and more—will accelerate the future of travel mobility.

“The bill also establishes a Chief Travel and Tourism Officer at the Department of Transportation to help coordinate travel and tourism policy across all modes of transportation. This role will be vital for rebuilding our industry and preparing to welcome back visitors from around the world.”

The U.S. Virgin Islands: Open For Business

The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is comprised of three major islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. It is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States with each major island having a unique character all its own.

The population of the USVI, estimated at 90,000, is largely made up of Caribbean people of African, British, and American heritage that creates a unique Caribbean culture. In the past 500 years, seven nations—Spain, United Kingdom, Holland, France, Knights of Malta, Denmark and the U.S.­­—have governed the USVI, leaving a rich tapestry of diverse culture, cuisine, architecture, customs, and music.

Tourism Industry
A rendering of the terminal expansion and modernization project at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, located in St. Croix, USVI. (Photo: U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority)

The USVI is more than just an ideal destination in the Caribbean for tourists; it is also the ideal location for doing business and maximizing your company’s profits.

Being American makes the USVI a highly desired location for investment. It uses U.S. currency and has the protection of the U.S. flag and courts. Manufacturers have duty-free, quota-free access to the U.S. mainland with “Made in the USA” labels on many types of products.

USVI economic development tax incentive programs, including the STARS Program, IFSE Program, Hotel Development Program, and TIF Program, help qualifying companies reduce their taxes and increase their profits and rival any benefits package across the globe.

The USVI government is supportive of public-private partnerships and has secured several deals involving millions of dollars in capital investments to private companies. Diageo established its worldwide distillery of Captain Morgan rum on St. Croix, and is one example of the successful public-private partnerships that thrive in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Paying Taxes: The USVI uses a mirror system of taxation, also known as the “Mirror Code,” meaning that local taxes are paid to the U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) generally to the same extent as U.S. taxpayers would under the Code to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Local Workforce: There is a stable, educated, and committed labor force. A knowledgeable workforce with strong construction and manufacturing skills have developed due to the Territory’s history of industrial and services industries. Virgin Islanders have expertise in a wide array of sectors, including:

  • Financial and professional services
  • Call centers and back-office operations
  • Knowledge-based and e-commerce activities
  • Shipping and port activities
  • Marine
  • Tourism and hotel development
  • Real estate development
  • Energy and renewable
  • Rum distilling
  • Advanced manufacturing

Workforce Training: The University of the Virgin Islands graduates more than 330 students each year from its associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs.

The nationally accredited university also delivers graduates from its five schools and colleges: Business Administration, Education, Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Nursing, and Science & Mathematics. A specialized Bachelor of Administration degree in Hotel and Tourism Management prepares graduates for positions as stewards, purchasing agents, banquet managers, club managers, resort managers, front office managers, resident auditors, and food and beverage managers.

Market Access: The U.S. Virgin Islands has excellent harbors and deepwater ports with a well-developed freight and transportation system with access to the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Asian shipping routes. Thanks to the Jones Act Exemption, the USVI is exempt from the Jones Act, a cabotage law that requires freight moving between U.S. ports to be carried on U.S. flag vessels. Freight between U.S. ports (including Puerto Rico) and the USVI may also be carried on foreign flag vessels. St. Thomas and St. Croix provides direct cargo and passenger flights. St. Thomas harbor is one of the deepest natural water harbors in the Caribbean, and a thriving passenger and commercial container facility in Krum Bay. St. Croix boasts “The Container Port”—a transshipment center and hub for commercial and industrial marine activity.

Telecommunications: Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands enjoy some of the most advanced communications networks in the Caribbean, including The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN, Inc.) Fiber Optic Network which provides reliable high-speed Internet connections at affordable prices to residents, businesses, and government agencies. Dependable mobile service is provided by AT&T/Liberty Mobile, Sprint, and a variety of local providers.

Airports: The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to two international airports with direct and connecting flights from the United States, and other international and Caribbean airports: the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX), located in Christiansted, St. Croix; and the Cyril E. King Airport (STT), located on the western end of St. Thomas.

Daily non-stop flights to both St. Thomas and St. Croix are offered to/from major U.S. locations such as New York, Newark, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Juan, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington DC, and Fort Lauderdale. [SP1] Commuter airlines, such as Bohlke International Airways, Cape Air, Island Airlines LLC, Seaborne Airlines, and on-demand charter Sea Flight can transport you between islands in as little as 17 minutes.

Fiber Optic Network: The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to one of the fastest broadband connections in the Western Hemisphere offering high-speed Internet access.

  • Up to 10 Gbps of bandwidth
  • Direct tier one links to Miami and New York
  • 99.999+% reliability

Thanks to the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN), a public corporation, all residents, businesses and government agencies in the USVI enjoy access to affordable, sophisticated and reliable high-speed fiber optic network internet connections. Supported by federal grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, viNGN works with local businesses to install the state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Better Lifestyle, Lower Cost Of Living In North Tampa Bay, FL

From country to a nature rich coastline Pasco County, FL has a little bit of something for everyone. Pasco County features a pro-business government leadership in a right to work state with local incentives, low operating costs, and no personal state income tax.

The location provides easy access to the Tampa Bay region which features Tampa International Airport, one of the best international airports in the U.S., as well as Port Tampa Bay, the closest U.S. deep-water port to the Panama Canal. All of this growth has attracted many new residents to Pasco County, about 100,000 over the past decade to be precise.

Tourism Industry
American Balloons specializes in hot air balloon adventures throughout the East Pasco and Northern Hillsborough county areas of Florida.

Pasco County is experiencing unprecedented growth with over 19,000 acres of master planned developments in the works to create the ultimate “Live, Work and Play” communities. Speaking of live and work, Pasco is one of the top places to work from home in Florida!

These master planned developments are incorporating a mixture of residential living, small and large businesses, trails, and excellent dining and entertainment options. The idea helps promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle with safe walkability and community engagement.

In Pasco County, there are limitless outdoor activities. There are dozens of parks and bike trails to explore throughout the county. The Suncoast Trail is a 42-mile trail in Pasco County that connects users across Tampa Bay. The Suncoast Trail is also a part of a trail that will connect trails all-across Florida through the Coast-to-Coast Trail. In northeast Pasco many cyclists enjoy the rolling hills of San Antonio and historic downtown in Dade City.

If trails and inland parks aren’t your style you can tackle your next unforgettable fishing or scalloping trip on Florida’s Sports Coast in Pasco County. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it is the perfect place for an angling adventure. With key sport fish like red drum, spotted seatrout and common snook, our temperate coastal waters have been luring scores of fishermen here for years.

Explore the waterfront by kayak, boat, or fishing charters, Anclote Island State Park is a tropical paradise just off the coast of Pasco County. Residents have been boating and exploring the island and nearby sand bars for years.

A 15-minute boat ride makes you feel like you are on a tropical vacation in your own backyard, literally.

Enjoy a fun-filled timeout from reality year-round in Pasco County. Whether you’re exploring your wild side during a safari-style tour, testing your limits on one of our aerial obstacle courses, or just enjoying some playtime outdoors, you’ll discover endless ways to create lasting memories. Pasco has everything you need for a quality of life you can enjoy.

Indian River County, FL: Central To Where Your Business Needs To Be

Indian River County—Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fellsmere—strikes a perfect balance between business and pleasure. Those who live, work or visit Florida’s Central East Coast experience a safe and affordable community that’s rich in history and natural resources, with year-round mild temperatures and the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean providing a variety of outdoor activities. From paddle-boarding on the Indian River Lagoon to bass fishing in Cypress Lake, or just some quiet time with a book on the beach, the county offers something for everyone. Corporate executives locate their companies to this area because of their positive vacation experience, plus many have winter homes in Vero Beach.

The county’s superb quality of life attracts innovative businesses and talented professionals from around the country and around the world. The area offers easy access to markets with none of the urban sprawl, traffic or congestion.  Commute times within the county are no more than 30 minutes, and less than an hour within the tri-county region.

Vero Beach
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is the company’s only oceanfront resort in Florida.

It’s also a cost-competitive place to locate or expand your business. The Indian River Chamber participates in the national ACCRA Cost of Living survey, comparing a variety of cost factors with 300 other markets throughout the country. Year-after-year, the Vero Beach-Sebastian area is typically on par, or slightly lower, with the national average.

Despite the pandemic, the county’s hotels saw a sharp increase in room night reservations in late 2020, along with a booming summer in 2021. Tourism bed tax collections increased 68% and the hotel occupancy rate increased 5.7% compared to 2019—a record year.

County tourism representatives are seeing the area’s visitor demographics grow and adapt. Visitors are coming from new markets such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago and Birmingham, while the county continues to promote its attributes in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. These new and existing market promotions focus on Indian River County’s 4-and-5-star beach resorts plus its many other beachside and mainland hotels along with properties along I-95. With a variety of hotel experiences, Indian River County can accommodate families, romantic couples’ weekends and get-togethers with friends.  The area hosts many weddings and other special events on the beach and at private venues complete with natural settings for that perfect visitor experience.

Visitors might remember Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the former spring training grounds of the NY/LA Dodgers. Now taken over by the MLB, it is rebranded as the Jackie Robinson Training Center, to honor the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Mr. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The Training Center is now utilized year-round for a wide variety of professional and youth sporting competitions—including baseball.

The area’s restaurant scene is a foodie’s delight, with a wide variety of delicacies to enjoy. One of the oldest beachfront restaurants in Vero Beach, The Ocean Grille, opened in the 1940s by the eccentric Waldo Sexton, who also built The Driftwood Inn, an eclectic ocean-front property, and Waldo’s Restaurant, a favorite hang-out for the locals. Visitors can also experience Old Florida at Marsh Landing Restaurant in Fellsmere, where you can enjoy frog legs, gator tail and blue grass music. Want to kick it back a notch? There’s a place for that, too.  Capt. Hiram’s Resort in Sebastian offers a sandbar atmosphere to enjoy live music, great food and a “no worries” atmosphere.

The area’s brew pub scene has grown substantially over the past several years, now with five locally-owned pubs and an Ale Trail where visitors and locals alike can experience all the stories and history within the region. In late 2022, Vero Beach will also be home to two local distilleries, complete with tasting rooms for visitors.

Because location is central to success, Indian River County isn’t just where you want to be—it’s central to where you and your business ought to be. For more information on locating your company to Indian River County, FL, contact Helene Caseltine, Economic Development Director with the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, at 772-567-3491 or Visit their website at For more information on visitor experiences, check out

Work-Life Balance Is Second Nature In Sierra Vista

Just 10 minutes from downtown restaurants and shops, Sierra Vista, AZ’s Municipal Airport is a one-of-a-kind location for aviation-related business, with ready infrastructure to accommodate large aircraft, buildable acreage, and a diverse labor pool.

This small airport is built with infrastructure normally found in metropolitan areas. Thanks to a joint use agreement with adjacent Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista can boast a 12,001-foot runway, air traffic assistance, aviation ground services, and ample parking.

The facility offers 13 acres of land adjacent to a 7-acre concrete apron, and water and electrical, to include phase 3, is available on site. Currently undeveloped, the City is prepping the land and anticipates a shovel-ready site in early 2022.

“We recognize that having a smaller parcel of land for development means that only one or two businesses will ultimately locate to Sierra Vista—and we see that as a business advantage,” said the City’s Economic Development Manager Tony Boone. “As a mid-sized community, Sierra Vista offers myriad business benefits when compared to congested metro areas. Not only are commutes measured in minutes, but business owners also have direct access to our staff, creating a true partnership approach to development and growth.”

Along with shorter commutes, Sierra Vista enjoys a temperate climate, with winter weather only occasionally dipping below 32 degrees, and summer temperatures rarely exceeding 95. On average, the annual high temperature is a pleasant 77 degrees.

“Our temperate climate translates into lower energy costs,” Boone said. “Sierra Vista energy rates are competitive when stacked against other top Arizona destinations, and energy demand for cooling and heating is significantly lower due to the mild climate.

Named as the best city for teleworking—and the most affordable city in Arizona—Sierra Vista is attracting a professional workforce as part of the “great migration,” bolstering its already high caliber labor pool of tech-savvy, educated residents.

Sierra Vista is home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca, a post serving strategic technical missions in the fields of electronics, engineering, network operations, security, technical interoperability, unmanned aircraft systems, intelligence, and cyber operations. Approximately 700 professionally trained and educated soldiers transition through Fort Huachuca to re-enter the civilian workforce annually, providing a valuable resource for businesses seeking candidates for sensitive positions. Here, recruiters can find applicants with clean records, high physical standards, and ability to follow instruction and obtain clearances.

For businesses seeking workers skilled in the trades, Sierra Vista’s Cochise College turns out graduates skilled in construction, welding, and automotive technology. Cochise College’s computer technology programs include augmented reality/virtual reality, engineering, math, information systems, and cybersecurity. The tech programs dovetail into those offered at the Sierra Vista-based University of Arizona’s college of Applied Science and Technology, which leads the nation in intelligence and information operations, cyber operations, and informatics.  Both institutions are strong community partners and welcome potential R&D partnerships with Sierra Vista businesses.

With millennials expected to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, locating where work-life balance is inherent is a smart business decision.  A sizable 83% of people now aged 20 to 40 evaluate how time-consuming a job will be when considering signing on—and choosing to walk away from positions that leave little free time outside of working hours.  With an average commute of 16 minutes, the Sierra Vista labor force enjoys more free time to do things that matter most to them.

Along with a short commute, Sierra Vista offers an affordable, flexible lifestyle.  Outdoor recreation opportunities are minutes from home and accessible all year, thanks to a mild, four-season climate. Continuing education opportunities, sports, shopping, and many other amenities found only in big cities pack advantages into both sides of Sierra Vista’s work-life balance.

As the largest Arizona city east of Tucson, Sierra Vista is a hub for business, education, healthcare, and tourism. Visitors make Sierra Vista a destination for the world-class outdoor hiking and bicycling and set up a vacation home base for day trips to nearby attractions.

Located between Arizona’s two largest wine-producing regions, visitors can sample vintages from more than 25 wineries and distilleries. Between stops, travelers enjoy the rolling Canelo Hills to the west and the rugged Chiricahua Mountains to the east. History buffs can stop at ghost towns and prehistoric sites or head to Tombstone where re-enactors roam historic streets and buildings more than a century old. Art aficionados wander the hilly byways of Old Bisbee, just 40 minutes from Sierra Vista.

Along with hiking and bicycling opportunities, visitors set their GPS for Sierra Vista to check birds off their life lists.  Known as the Hummingbird Capital of the U.S.—and the official Hummingbird Capital of Arizona—Sierra Vista is one of North America’s top birding destinations.  More than 350 species of birds migrate along the flyways across Sierra Vista’s skies. The cool canyons in the Huachuca Mountains along Sierra Vista’s southern edge offer safe nesting and resting spots for many tropical species—some of which travel no further north than this range.

Sierra Vista, at an elevation of 4,300 feet, is located where high desert and high mountains meet, creating an unexpected Arizona climate and topography, marked with four seasons and more than 280 sunny days each year. Residents and visitors alike enjoy Sierra Vista’s extraordinary recreational opportunities and breath-taking views of the Southwest.

Learn more about visiting Sierra Vista at, or putting down business roots at

Flagstaff: Arizona’s Winter Wonderland

Flagstaff, AZ is a destination for all seasons and home to a robust and growing tourism industry that drives the economy by providing world class professionalism and courteous concierge attention. Four seasons, often a minimum 30-degree temperature difference, and approximately 144 miles separate almost 5 million residents of the Phoenix metro area and Flagstaff Arizona which provides seasonal relief to those desert dwellers and to many others. Named Arizona’s Winter Wonderland, Flagstaff is the gateway to many diverse outdoor experiences including the eighth wonder of the world, the Grand Canyon. The business side of tourism delivers unique experiences for the visitor while also serving as an economic driver for the community and the residents who live there.

Flagstaff Extreme (FLG X) provides a safe, fun, physical and unique outdoor experience via a ropes course through the pines.

Flagstaff attracts over 5 million visitors each year to Visit. Discover. Grow. their experiences and the experiences of others, meaning that Flagstaff is a unique destination for individuals and families to explore the high desert forests and mountains while it also is a great location for a new business designed to enhance the experience of all those visitors.

Flagstaff through the seasons of travel and of related business opportunities sets the framework for travel plans and for entrepreneurial ventures. With over 5,000 hotel rooms and literally hundreds of ways to enjoy Flagstaff, a few options for each season will paint the picture that puts Flagstaff at the top of your bucket list. But before jumping into the seasons, here is a snapshot of one element of the tourism industry that demonstrates the demand for the Flagstaff experience. Comparing the month September of 2021 to September 2020 shows that the occupancy rate is up 5.4%, the average daily rate which demonstrates the appetite of the traveling public is up 31.4%, and for the operators considering Flagstaff, the revenue per available room is up 38.5%. Consider those numbers for your next plans and places to locate your business as we travel through the seasons.

Summer temperatures in Flagstaff average in the low 80’s which is perfect to enjoy the hundreds of miles of trails, the national parks and monuments, and the highest point in Arizona known as Humphrey’s Peak at an elevation of 12,637 feet from which one may see the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff Extreme is a ropes course through the pines that rivals any such experiences elsewhere. Then there is Hypo2Sport, a high-altitude training facility that trained Olympic athletes from around the world for the recent summer Olympics earning over 200 medals. The awarded independent restaurants, craft breweries, and outdoor festivals show a robust economy catering to the world. Concessionaires to the Colorado River down the Grand Canyon curate world class rapids, fishing, stargazing and wildlife viewing, while hundreds of other guiding services for trails, rides, hunts, slopes and more make a stay in Flagstaff unforgettable.

Flagstaff in the fall delivers brilliant autumnal colors that warm spirits as nights begin to cool and an invitation to explore the skies at the uniquely Flagstaff star gazing event known as the Star Party. Winter boasts over 120 inches of snow in the community and a ski area known as Arizona Snowbowl with steeps and glades, terrain parks and beginner terrain as well. As spring springs into green, there are days that invite one to ski in the morning, to paddleboard in the afternoon, and to visit the Museum of Northern Arizona which invites visitors to an intimate understanding of the Colorado Plateau.

This is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Try luxury camping or a Segway tour through the downtown and so much more.

If you’re wondering what other types of industry call Flagstaff home besides the hotels, restaurants and bars, activities, amenities and destinations, there is a short answer A LOT!. Economic Development efforts seek to attract, retain and grow research and design in clean technologies, bio-medical and medical devices, software, e-commerce, manufacturing, materials technology, and healthcare. In fact, a major expansion is underway with Northern Arizona Healthcare’s (NAH)-Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC), the only level 1 trauma unit outside of the Phoenix and Tucson areas, which is relocating and expanding onto 180 acres in Flagstaff.

Additionally, Flagstaff continues to experience major business growth in the aerospace and manufacturing sectors. Katalyst Space Technologies recently arrived in Flagstaff and will have their first satellites sent into the final frontier by the end of 2023. Flagstaff is world renowned for its impact on the astronomical community by being the first dark sky city, a testing ground for lunar rovers, and we are the home to Lowell Observatory which discovered Pluto!

The world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream cones, Joy Cone Company is planning to expand their facility and deliver even more Joy Cones to the world. Flagstaff also just recruited the largest new business in the last 50 years with the arrival of UACJ Whitehall Automotive Industries. Whitehall fabricates automotive components for electric vehicle companies like Tesla, and is helping to pave the way to a sustainable transportation future. They will create over 300 quality jobs in the Flagstaff community over the next three years.

Whether you are a traveler looking to experience the wonders of nature on your next adventure, or a business owner searching for a new prosperous economic landscape, or just simply hunting for your next weekend getaway, Flagstaff truly has something for everyone. There is so much that can be said about this charming mountain town, however, words can only tell you so much and we encourage you to come see for yourself why Flagstaff is truly an amazing place to live, work, and play.

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