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Dover, Kent County already seeing a big tourism hit due to COVID-19

Delaware Public Media
Kent County and the City of Dover expect to take a major tourism-related economic hit from the COVID-19 outbreaks.

Tourism is one of industries likely to be hit hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. And Kent County is already feeling it with a number of major events scrubbed.


Firefly became the latest to cancel Tuesday, calling off its 4-day event scheduled to start June 18th.



Old Dover Days in May was shelved earlier this month.  And NASCAR’s May race weekend at Dover International Speedway was postponed, though NASCAR hopes to reschedule.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen says these are big blows. 


“I am very heartbroken about Dover Days celebration being cancelled and also I’m very concerned about the NASCAR race being cancelled because it, like Dover Days and Firefly, are economic engines that provide additional revenues for the City of Dover and Kent County,” said Christiansen.

Christiansen notes last week we was given preliminary numbers regardind what the loss of Dover Days and potential loss of a NASCAR weekend would cost Kent County.


“The number that I was told last Thursday in a briefing was that anywhere between $30- and $40 million of generated income for the area,” said Christiansen.


And those losses will only grow with Tuesday's cancellation of the Firefly Music Festival, which was schedued from June 18 through 21.


But Kent County Tourism Director Pete Bradley says revenue can’t come first right now.


"First is the safety and welfare of everybody,” said Bradley.


Christansen believes things will come back bigger, better and stronger once the crisis subsides. 


Bradley agrees.


“We’ll be a refuge to get away (down the road). I think what's going to happen is that (some) people will still be going to Europe on longer trips and we’re a nice get away to the region - to the Atlantic region,” said Bradley.



Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.