DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The directors at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach called 2020 a total wash for business and said they even lost almost half of their employees.
This weekend, though, 3,500 gymnasts are flipping through the center for the Gasparilla Classic meet.
“While we are losing some events, we’re adding some new things so it’s just a constant fluidity of events that we’re dealing with right now,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Ocean Center.
The Gasparilla Classic is usually held in Tampa but was moved here due to lighter covid restrictions. It’s expected to bring 5,000 attendees with it and fill over 1,200 hotel rooms.
Buckley said it’s one of several large events filling cancelations this spring.
“Being that we’re Florida, and we’re somewhat more open than other states, we’re also seeing an influx of people that are just looking to host their events,” he said.
The center’s hotel room-night predictions for the fourth quarter of 2021 are almost double what they were for that period in 2020.
Nancy Keefer, President of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the center’s events will bring a steady annual revenue this year since the area’s major events like Bike Week will look much different in 2021.
“We get a lot of international visitors for bike week. We don’t believe we’re going to see a lot of them. There’s travel bans, it’s still a difficulty. We believe we’ll see a lot more of the drive-up market, what we call day-trippers,” she said.
Bike Week kicks off March 5. Daytona city leaders said businesses hosting events for it can only operate at 60% capacity this year.