Visit Orlando launches new Tourism Help Hub to provide business owners, employees with resources

Site showcases options for financial aid, food assistance

More than 24 hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a proposal to automatically enroll furloughed Walt Disney World workers in the state’s unemployment benefits system, few details about the plan have been released.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tourism industry workers and business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic now have a new resource they can use to help them get assistance.

Visit Orlando on Thursday launched its new Tourism Help Hub, available here, to provide members of the community with much-needed resources.

The page showcases options for applying for financial relief -- whether it be as a business owner or an employee who is currently out of work -- as well as details for local food banks, discounts for health care workers and first responders, employment opportunities and other insightful information into how the spread of COVID-19 is impacting Florida’s once-booming tourism industry.

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“As we all navigate the new reality caused by COVID-19, the tourism industry is being impacted and evolving at an accelerated pace,“ said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “We recognize that our local business owners are consumed with many difficult day-to-day decisions. Our priority with this hub is to filter through the significant amounts of information and resources we are exposed to daily and help highlight what they most need to make it through this critical time and also prepare for our recovery.”

For many across Central Florida, help has been difficult to obtain. Countless News 6 viewers have detailed their struggles applying for unemployment using the Department of Economic Opportunity’s overburdened website and only 1,000 business owners of the 38,000 who applied were able to get a Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan before the program tapped out.

On Thursday, the SBA also ran out of funds to continue providing Paycheck Protection Program loans to business owners.

When everything is said and done, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond estimates that the pandemic’s impact on county’s tourism tax dollars will be worse than what it was after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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