COVID caused major shift in focus for Jonesborough Tourism Department

 Tuesday, April 27, 2021 

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For the Main Street of Jonesborough and Tourism Director, Cameo Waters, 2020 had been quite a different year and it compelled her and her staff members to adjust while on progress, transforming an organization focused on drawing tourists and promoting events. It can help small businesses stay afloat.


To quote Waters, “I think when COVID hit, a lot of things happened at one time. The Tourism Department and Main Street staff, we all worked really hard initially to keep the public in tune with canceled and postponed events, what was happening, business hours, services that we still offered — what was happening, that was the big thing immediately.”


“Another really big thing was the JAMA food pantry. You know, my department, we do the marketing for the town and they were in a big need of non-perishable food donations so we worked with them and tried to help get the word out to try and help increase their volunteer staff and get more items donated,” Waters continued.


“Those were a few of the really big instant things, and then from there it was small businesses — it was, ‘How can we help our small businesses?’”


In mid-March, with almost all events postponed, how to help small businesses stay afloat turned out to be the main focus for Waters and much of the staff members of the town.


“We had done a lot of marketing, events were being canceled and things weren’t happening, so we kind of leaned on marketing and how we could encourage that so we actually redesigned our tourism website and we shifted to a small-business focus,” Waters said. “Each day we were all meeting multiple times … we were updating the website — we just had to keep the public in the loop on how they could still have some form of normalcy provided by their favorite small business and how they could continue to support that business so they could stay alive when the pandemic was hopefully over. We really shifted our operations and our thought process on how can we be most beneficial to support our small businesses.”


Covid impacted the various aspects of tourism, as travel ground experienced close down with businesses shutting down for weeks over virus related concerns.

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