SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (CBS 4) — The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped tourism across the globe and South Padre Island was no different as it was impacted hard by the lack of visitors.
To save revenue, South Padre Island was forced to cut nearly $4 million from its total budget because of the lack of visitors due to COVID-19.
“This could not have happened at a worst time for our budget cycle because we have an offseason and we have a regular season and this started at the beginning of our high season,” said Patrick McNulty, Mayor of South Padre Island.
The city’s general fund cut about $1 million, but it wasn’t just from the city’s fund that was chopped.
The SPI Convention and Visitors Bureau also cut millions of dollars because they were not receiving enough funding from HOT taxes.
“We made the total cuts that were about $2.8 million dollars from the just the CVB money, not the general fund, the general fund is definitely different and it’s run by the city manager and the city council and they had some cuts there too,” said Ed Caum, Director of Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The cuts involved employees being let go, furloughed, staff trainings cancelled, and cutting marketing.
Now, city officials say they will focus more on marketing towards locals here in the RGV instead of targeting tourists from other states.
“This has been their destination to vacation for generations, decades and we continue to talk to the people of the valley and continue to invite them here and we just approved a new campaign at tonight’s city council meeting to keep the island clean and safe,” said Cuam.
Staff say they are hoping to rehire several of the employees they have let go once business gets back to normal.
The council also approved to reopen city parks today.
No contact sports will be allowed and basketball hoops will be blocked off.
The City of South Padre also encouraged all residents to fill out their 2020 census.