Well ‘it’ finally happened. Orlando, formerly known as both The City Beautiful and The Happiest Place on Earth was finally tested, and when I say tested I mean that in the worst possible scenario. While there’s no point or need to rehash what happened to OTown over the course of one crazy-sad mind blowing weekend full of shocking gun violence and a singular gator stunner, here in the Hospitality Hive we think what’s most important moving forward is exactly that.
It’s a sad truth that even while victims are still being buried and memorialized the city must continue to keep it’s heartbeat going, and in my opinion it’s being done in a most thoughtful and respectful way. One only has to look at the daily newspaper to see what public activities are scheduled that provide comfort to the grieving and a voice for those who want to help and be heard. No matter at what level these tragedies touched you – and we were, indeed, all affected in some way – we’ve already learned (too many times. . .) from other cities who have dealt with this type of disaster that it’s vital to keep our pulse going.
And in the case of Orlando, our lifeline is tourism.
That’s not to say there aren’t tons of other vital industries that contribute to all that makes Orlando what it is, but we all know that tourism is the mo-jo from which most other juices flow here, so to stop doing what we do best and most of around here would not be an option. Just as New York City didn’t stop ‘being NYC’ in the aftermath of 9/11, nor did Paris. . .or Columbine. . .or Virginia Tech. . .or heck, no need to name them all. You get the sad picture here. We can’t just stop being the number 1 tourist destination in the world because of recent tragic events.
But we can be smarter, which is exactly what will happen; in many cases it already is. Our convention and visitors bureau has not only been both respectful and proactive in their omnificent worldwide presence but it has publically updated many safety issues for inbound travelers that can be viewed on their website. You can check it out here at www.visitorlando.com. And our friends at Walt Disney World have already made huge changes to their internal and public policies regarding that unbelievably tragic accident, most of which we only know about because of the watchful public eye now turned on their every move and not because they are trying to draw attention to their actions.
And depending on when you’re reading this post, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has joined forces with Visit Orlando to raise money for the #OneOrlandoFund via the June 30th Dine Out Orlando program. Hundreds of participating restaurants have signed up to participate and donate generous percentages of their daily sales – some including breakfast, lunch, and dinner – to the fund specifically set up to benefit victims and families affected by the Pulse nightclub tragedy, aka our community.
And as our entire community continues to mourn and grieve, heal and react, express our anger and sadness at having lost those precious lives while simultaneously gaining an ugly new statistic attached to our city, one thing will remain certain in Orlando: there’s a new layer to the meaning of the word hospitality and it involves safety first on many different levels.
Sadly, we have plenty of company in redefining hospitality because it’s also part of the new normal of worldwide tourism.