Hospitality workers have been slammed as hotels and restaurants throughout the region have shuttered their doors amid the coronavirus outbreak. But more than 100 hotels are open in a program that’s a win for both hospitality professionals and workers in essential jobs.
To support hotels that are open and help people who meet the “Essential Lodger” criteria find places to stay, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) created the Hotels for Essential Lodgers Program, which provides an online, up-to-date list of hotels that are keeping their doors open. “Essential Lodgers” are defined as first responders, healthcare workers, patients’ families, airline crew members, domestic violence victims, and out-of-town journalists.
The list ( www.miamiandbeaches.com/miami-essential-lodging) includes properties in the airport area, Aventura, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Doral, downtown, midtown, Homestead, Kendall, Little Havana, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs, Overtown, Sunny Isles Beach, Surfside, and Wynwood.
“The City of Miami Beach closed all its hotels, while Miami-Dade County has closed for new business to minimize non-essential lodgers, but there are various exemptions,” said Rolando Aedo, the chief operating officer of the GMCVB. “We made this database to help people in those categories and are looking for lodging. There were a lot of guests in Miami Beach on Monday who were displaced and can’t get home, so this helped them move to the mainland.”
For the tens of thousands of hospitality workers who have lost their jobs, the Miami Pandemic Response Fund may help. The $500,000 initiative is co-sponsored by the GMCVB, United Way, Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, Health Foundation of South Florida and The Miami Foundation. It is earmarked for struggling families with emergency needs including food, supplies, utilities, rent/mortgage assistance. Those wishing to apply or donate to the fund may do so online at https://portal.unitedwaymiami.org/COVID19 or by calling 1-800-226-3320.
In response to increasing need, the GMCVB launched a “Help for Tourism” webpage ( www.GMCVB.com/help) listing all the resources and charitable opportunities available for workers in the travel and hospitality industry. Among the relief efforts it includes are the SOBEWFF & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, United States Bartenders Guild relief campaign, Restaurant Worker Relief Fund, Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, and Feeding South Florida’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
The page includes a list of companies that are hiring such as Dollar General, Domino’s, Walmart, Amazon, Pepsi, Walgreens, Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, Zoom, Slack, Publix, Target, Dollar Tree, Papa John’s, CVS, Trader Joe’s and Lowe’s.
“There are so many great organizations doing fundraising, and our website can serve as a clearing house for hospitality-centric relief efforts and resources,” Aedo said. “We also can help unemployed folks with a list of companies that are hiring and community efforts like the Salute to the Front Line Responders, asking local businesses to give special offers to medical workers, paramedics and law enforcement.”
To boost the restaurant business, the bureau established the Miami Eats program, which promotes delivery and/or take-out menus to encourage residents to support local restaurants struggling to stay open. The full list of dining options is found at www.GMCVB.com/MiamiEats and will be updated daily. As of Friday, 472 restaurants were on the list.
“We took the same team that produces Miami Spice, brought them together and launched the Miami Eats program,” said Aedo. “Restaurants we work so closely with all year, we felt we could make a quick difference there by activating this program. It’s not a panacea, we know that, but if there’s anything we can do to keep some trickle of business going in and if that saves even one job, it’s worth the effort.”
Several of Miami’s museums and tourist attractions are offering virtual programming on their websites during their closures. The GMCVB also provides links to promote those organizations.