Lodging statistics for April 29-March 4, as expected, were down again and I am hopeful we are at or near the bottom as stay-home orders and social distancing guidelines are practiced in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Compared to the same period last year, occupancy was down 64.2 percent, average daily rate was down 28.3%, demand was down 62.8% and revenue was down 73.3%.

What that means is thousands of people who were employed in the area’s leisure and hospitality industry continue to be out of work, business owners are losing their shirts and tax revenue we rely on just isn’t there. My heart goes out to all the families and individuals struggling to get by and I hope we see a turnaround soon.

As we struggle through this, the creative ways some businesses are trying to stay afloat gives me hope for the future. Some hotels are suggesting those who are tired of the stay-at-home orders can get a change of scenery by renting a hotel room or set up an office in a hotel room if they don’t like working from home. Medical workers concerned about bringing the virus home also can rent a hotel room.

Rest assured the Convention & Visitors Bureau isn’t sitting idly by. Although a significant number of groups that were scheduled to convene in the city had to cancel, our group sales staff is working with the event planners to get the business rebooked at a future date if possible. Our marketing department also is working on plans to get people traveling to Springfield again and will implement those campaigns as soon as practical.

Our mission is to help the local economy grow through growth in travel and tourism, which is more important now than ever.