Visitors at Montauk Point.

Following a year of record-breaking highs, Long Island’s $6.1 billion tourism industry has been crippled by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

More than 100,000 jobs that rely on visitors are at stake, and the loss of tourism sales tax revenues that fund our counties will be immediately felt by residents. In 2018, more than $740 million was generated in local and state tourism tax revenues, and the counties rely heavily on those dollars to fund our critical services. 

To date, hotel occupancy in the region is down 68.4 percent year over year. More than 80 percent of tourism industry businesses on Long Island are small businesses and many are struggling to access federal financial assistance. 

Discover Long Island, the region’s official destination marketing and management organization, has responded to today’s ever-changing crisis by serving as a resource to hospitality workers and most importantly acting as a voice of hope and courage for the community during this disheartening time. 

Right now, there’s nothing more important than taking care of each other and coming together as an industry and a community. Our team is striving to serve as an information portal, a resource for our struggling businesses and tourism industry employees, and a beacon of light for our residents and business community.

The organization has launched a free Community Partner Program and nationally recognized inspirational Hold Fast message designed to support and inspire residents, the business community, and the nation to believe that this storm too will pass. The new program allows all tourism-related businesses to stay connected during this critical time and to leverage Discover Long Island’s voice and influence.

Charity T-shirts with the #HoldFast message are available for purchase at shop.discoverlongisland.com with proceeds directly benefiting the region’s tourism employees through the Above and Beyond Foundation. 

As discussions of reopening start to take place, Discover Long Island reminds residents that it will be with renewed gratitude that we open our hearts, as well as our doors, and once again prepare to welcome back both visitors and locals to our shores. 

Kristen Jarnagin is President and CEO of Discover Long Island.

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