A proposed marketing campaign could provide a boost to DuPage County's hospitality industry following the sharp decline in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DuPage County Board members on Tuesday are expected to vote to set aside $1 million to establish a COVID-19 Tourism Promotion and Business Attraction Relief Fund. If approved, the fund will be used to pay for advertising to spread the word about the reopening and safe operation of DuPage's tourism sites, hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Board member Tim Elliott, chairman of the county's economic development committee, said the plan is to try and kick-start the part of DuPage's economy that's been hardest hit by the pandemic.
"If we can the make the case to get people back into our hotels, back into our restaurants, back into our facilities -- and if we can make them understand that they are being run in a matter that is as safe as can be under the circumstances -- this is a great economic development opportunity," the Glen Ellyn Republican said.
Money for the fund would come from roughly $161 million the county received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The federal dollars can be used to support local businesses that have had their operations interrupted because of the pandemic, county officials said.
Beth Marchetti, executive director of the DuPage County Convention & Visitors Bureau, says there are about 25 full-service hotels in DuPage.
"We don't want to see them blighted and closed," she said. "We need to try to get their occupancy and their revenues up a little bit."
The plan is to have the $1 million fund administered by Choose DuPage. The group will work with the convention and visitors bureau and the DuPage County Health Department to create the marketing campaign.
As part of the campaign, officials will promote the safety protocols in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and keep the county safe, including capacity limits, sanitizing, masks and social distancing.
In addition, the campaign will promote opportunities that exist for shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation in the county.
Another goal will be to establish DuPage as a premier global business location.
Board member Pete DiCianni said he supports the proposal because it helps DuPage's hotels and restaurants.
"They're taking a beating right now ... with COVID," the Elmhurst Republican said. "We need to give them the ability and the marketing. I would argue this is Economic Development 101."