When the world came to a halt last year, so did the tourism industry in Delaware. In working to keep tourism strong, the Delaware Tourism Office and the Division of Small Business has done everything from communicating across countless phone calls to working with partners to develop new programs. Here are just a few of the ways that we’ve helped the industry move forward during the pandemic:
Whether it has been leaning on each other or asking for help when it’s needed most, working together as a unified front has been key during COVID. From the earliest days of the State of Emergency, the Delaware Tourism Office has been distributing key information to partners and reaching out with calls and touchpoints to ensure that business owners and non-profit organizations have the most up-to-date information. Thank you to the many organizations and businesses that have participated in the hundreds of various conference calls and planning sessions over the last year including the Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association, historical attractions, sporting venues, Delaware Restaurant Association and many more! Your input has been extremely important.
As we balanced COVID-19 response with keeping tourism moving forward, here are a few highlights from the sports and group tour sales leader's at the Delaware Tourism Office.
- We worked with over 25 sporting events since March of 2020, navigating protocols, connecting teams and organizers to nearby locations to explore during their travels, and ensuring facilities have the most up-to-date information from the Department of Public Health.
- Although the group tour segment has been one of the hardest hit sectors, the Delaware Tourism Office has continued to keep Delaware top-of-mind with group tour clients by participating in two virtual tradeshows as well as hosting a webinar for Delaware’s group tour industry with the President of the American Bus Association.
Summer/Explore Safely campaign
Set with the task of presenting all of the information and protocols allowing safe travel to resume in the state, we worked with the Governor’s office on the development and implementation of the Summer/Explore Safely campaign. With the help of the many chambers, towns, and cities that participated as well as DelDOT, the state was able to put up signage overnight, distribute thousands of PPE kits and safety information to hundreds of business owners. This would not have been such a success if it were not for these partnerships and coming together of the industry in one cohesive voice.
To support the campaign:
- The Delaware Tourism Office launched a videos series that provided visitors and residents a look at how restaurants, attractions and hotels are adhering to COVID-19 protocols. The series has received over 40,000 views. Thank you to the businesses and organizations that partnered with us to gather footage and help share this message.
- The Division of Small Business developed a Google map of locations, which has now been viewed over 17,000 times, to assist travelers and residents with knowing what is open and what are the protocols at that location.
- The Delaware Discovery Advisors program was also launched, in which individuals can complete a form based on their interests and the Delaware Tourism Office will provide travel ideas guided by COVID-19 protocols and what locations are open to explore. We’ve provided over 460 visitors with customize trip ideas.
As we move into the spring, please continue to share with travelers the message to Explore Safely and the Go-To guide to travel in Delaware.
Download Explore Safely signage, flyers, online media graphics at https://www.visitdelaware.com/industry/covid-19-in-delaware/explore-safely/
Download Know Before You Go and Go-to guide PDFs and online media graphics at https://www.visitdelaware.com/industry/covid-19-in-delaware/know-before-you-go-messaging
Both nationally and in Delaware it has been vitally important, with the decline of out-of-state travelers, for residents to support local businesses. Within a week of the State of Emergency, we developed VisitDelaware.com/shoplocal to assist in providing the most up-to-date information to local travelers. Thank you to the many tourism industry businesses and organizations who’ve shared the #SupportLocalDE message and provided valuable information, special hotel packages, and much more to entice residents to explore safely in their own backyard. With spring on the horizon, the trend of local travel and drive-to destinations will continue, so please submit any deals or special offers for Delawareans at https://www.visitdelaware.com/industry/add-a-coupon.
Thank you to the tourism industry for coming together to honor front-line workers during COVID-19 by lighting attractions and businesses throughout the state in blue light last May and by sharing the #ThanksDE message throughout all of 2020 across social media. A special thank you to the many businesses who also offered deals and free meals to the front-line workers during these difficult times.
Division of Small Business financial programs
Within the first few days of the State of Emergency, our parent Division, the Division of Small Business, worked hard to stand up the HELP loan program to assist Delaware’s hard-hit hospitality sector. To date, more than 350 businesses have received about $8 million in loans through this program, one of the first nationally to assist the tourism industry.
The Delaware Relief Grant program, which began in later summer, through the Division of Small Business has provided almost $90 million in grants to businesses throughout Delaware in both the food service and accommodations and the arts and entertainment industries. If you have not already applied, please go to business.delaware.gov for more information.
To keep Delaware top of mind for interested travelers and to promote travel ideas for those seeking to Rediscover time together, new places, and for residents to explore places in our state they haven’t thought of before, we developed a summer co-op advertising campaign. The campaign also included Summer Safely messaging for what to expect when traveling to Delaware during the pandemic. County tourism offices and state parks were partners in the program and the overall campaign received 18 million impressions.
Tourism marketing educational portal and webinars
In May 2020, we worked with Miles Partnership to launch an educational portal for the industry to receive free marketing tips and how-to guides from experts with the goal to provide the information needed on posting COVID-19 updates to Google as well as using Facebook to share pertinent information. Along with the portal we hosted 15 webinars with topics ranging from the Department of Public Health providing guidance on COVID-19 protocols to marketing experts providing trends and insights.
The free Tourism Marketing Portal is still available and marketing experts update information weekly with tips and strategies. Visit https://delaware.tourismbusinessmarketing.com and use promo code DiscoverDE to sign up.
Delaware Discoveries Trail
In 2019, we were already hard at work developing the Delaware Discoveries Trail. Thankfully, the new program is a COVID compliant activity and we were able to launch the trail in September last year. The Delaware Discoveries Trail includes 10 interactive pieces of artwork throughout the state, specially created to provide a perfect spot for a #DelawareDiscoveries Insta-worthy photo to share on social media. The Delaware Tourism Office commissioned local and national artists to paint the one-of-a-kind pieces that can only be found in Delaware. For more info visit DelawareDiscoveries.com.
Delaware Discovery Guide
We launched the new Delaware Discovery Guide in late June. Under normal circumstance, we would have had a press event with much more fanfare to launch the top printed resource for planning a trip. But in response to COVID, we launched with an online announcement as well as turning the guide into a branded micro-website at places.travel/Delaware.
To order a guide, please go to https://www.visitdelaware.com/travel-guide.
To place a bulk shipment order, please go to https://forms.gle/tQCGuy13FazHJ7Ux6.