Brady talks continued COVID-19 impact on tourism industry

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — ‘Significant to say the least’ is how Charleston CVB Executive Director Tim Brady is describing the continued closure of the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center’s impact on the local economy.

Brady, appearing on Monday’s 580-LIVE on 580-WCHS, spoke on the impacts of COVID-19 which has forced large gatherings since March at the recently remodeled facility to be postponed or canceled.

“We invested heavily into the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, we pushed our chips onto the table,” he said. “Now that industry, an industry predicated on packing large numbers of people into a defined area is probably cut off at the knees in the short to medium term.”

Brady previously told 580-AM that the city is losing out on millions of dollars this summer with hundreds of events being missed downtown and all over the city.

He said three things need to happen for tourism to “come back.”

“We need people willing to travel, we need tourism businesses in our destination open and functioning at full or close to full capacity, and the third part is there has to be a local sentiment of acceptance of travelers,” Brady said.

More businesses are beginning to open up in West Virginia with many only allowing a certain amount of people inside. Brady said the CVB is doing everything in its power to promote the small businesses that have reopened.

“We can’t promote tourism right now so what we are promoting and what we are doing with our time and effort is to support these local businesses that are part of our local tourism infrastructure. So when travel and tourism resumes, we have a robust industry to lean on,” Brady said.

He noted tourism figures while on the show including 70 percent of those people expecting to travel this summer have readjusted plans, down from 85 percent peak in mid-April.

Brady also noted that only 41 percent of Americans are accepting of tourists coming into their communities, down from the last travel report.

There has been a noted uptick in COVID-19 cases in West Virginia in recent days, 137 new cases reported from Friday morning to Monday afternoon.

Brady said that Charleston can be a destination for those that still want to get out but not in the crowded vacation spots.

“We are a smaller destination,” he said. “You are not going to find crowded streets and crowded bars, there are great fun things to do in a much less crowded environment here in Charleston.”