Business Travel Slow Down During Pandemic Continues To Affect South Florida's Economy

Though commercial flying in South Florida has picked up in recent months, the same can't be said for business travel.

Video Transcript

- Staying on the road to reopening, tourism, conventions, business travel, cornerstones for the South Florida economy. Leisure travel is showing signs of life again, but not so much for conventions and business travel. At least not yet. CBS 4's Hank Tester takes a closer look.

HANK TESTER: On their way, airline travelers busting out of the COVID cocoon, vaccinated, and on the road. Regional road trips en vogue to the beach, to the mountains, but what's missing?

SCOTT BERMAN: We have not seen a sustainable return of the road warrior.

HANK TESTER: That would be the business traveler. Travel associations report about $300 billion out of $800 billion spent on travel comes from business travelers. What does that mean for South Florida, where beach hotels report an uptick in bookings?

SCOTT BERMAN: The hotels and resorts that have water views, you know, are in good shape. But when I think about those that are West of Miami Beach and West of the Biscayne Bay and the intercoastal, there's still some challenges, because those hotels also rely on the business traveler.

HANK TESTER: With empty offices and business being conducted by Zoom calls, more than a few companies wondering if business travel and convention attendance will ever return to pre-pandemic numbers.

SCOTT BERMAN: The second half of this year will be telling and will be better. It's going to be a gradual recovery of business demand, and it's going to take some time.

HANK TESTER: But that time will continue to produce the domino effect, impacting South Florida restaurants, rental car agencies, Uber and taxi drivers, and service workers.

SCOTT BERMAN: We can't talk about the return without the importance of groups and conventions.

HANK TESTER: All part of the business travel mix that brings major to South Florida locations.

SCOTT BERMAN: Stakeholders are actively marketing, selling the destination to make sure that we get our share of that very important piece of the travel sector.

HANK TESTER: Well, who's filling up those first class and business class seats on the airlines business travelers aren't? Well, that's leisure travelers who are using saved up points and cash they didn't use all during the pandemic when they couldn't take a vacation. I'm Hank Tester, CBS 4 News.