FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — It was nearly a month ago when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Tennessee— a 44-year-old adult man and resident of Williamson County.
Since then, Williamson county cases have grown to upwards of 150 as financial woes grow.
The tourism industry in Franklin and Williamson County has been impacted greatly.
Ellie Westman Chin, CEO of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, told News 2 Thursday that, to date, she has seen more than 360 event and convention/meeting cancellations, representing more than 22,000 in lost hotel room nights. All this, Chin says, is equal to a loss of around $3.5 million, not including losses revenue from dining and shopping.
There have been massive layoffs across the county, and at this time Chin is expecting that the Williamson County tourism industry will mirror the forecasts that are being shared by U.S. Travel Association of job losses in the tourism industry across the country will spike in April and May, shedding 53% of all travel employment.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association’s recent data shows hotel jobs lost amid COVID-19, state by state.
Out of more than 40,000 direct hotel operation jobs in Tennessee, nearly 18,000 are now gone. That number is only growing.
“We are collecting this information right now but I would say at this time most of our hotels and tourism partners have furloughed their workers and are keeping key personal on staff,” Chin said.
Chin hopes residents will purchase gift cards and utilize curbside pickup in an effort to help these businesses out.
“Not only are we looking at how can we help right now, we have a small team of people that are seeing how do we recover,” Chin said. “We know from resources that have been shared with us that domestic tourism is going to come back strong and fast. We are absolutely going to recover and come back stronger than ever.”
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.