Fred Pozin also says the media attention could have hurt the city.
Having the final four days of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville Aug. 24-27 would have had an economic impact estimated as much as $100 million.
One of the major beneficiaries of that injection of cash would have been the hotel industry. It’s a business sector that is essentially decimated by COVID-19 and the related self-isolation and social distancing.
Losing the room nights associated with the delegates, law enforcement personnel, media representatives and others who would be in Jacksonville for the event and a few days before and after is considered by the industry to be a substantial loss.
“You’re looking at some big money. My hotel alone would have done about $200,000 for the week,” said Fred Pozin, general manager of the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center in Mandarin.
Visit Jacksonville, the destination marketing firm for Jacksonville and the Beaches, declined to provide an estimate of the total financial loss for hoteliers.
“The convention hadn’t finalized all room blocks, so with unknown information we can’t run an economic impact calculation,” said spokeswoman Patty Winters in an email.
Pozin is a former member of the Duval County Tourist Development Council and Visit Jacksonville’s board of directors.
He said with only about 50% of Jacksonville’s hotel rooms occupied on average during the pandemic, at least 9,000 of the 18,000 rooms in the market would have been available for the convention.
“Based on that number of rooms and the average rate, the hospitality industry lost between $15 million and $20 million,” he said.
However, Pozin said in terms of what it will take for the local tourism market to recover after the pandemic, it could have been worse if the convention wasn’t canceled, considering the protests that were likely to accompany the event. It was planned at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and Downtown.
“The national and international media attention would not have been good for the city. There would have been more coverage outside the arena than inside the arena and it wouldn’t be feel-good, chamber-of-commerce coverage,” Pozin said.
“Even though we all could have used a shot in the arm for our long-term recovery, it’s nice to not have that hanging over us.”