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Visit Oxford providing ways to help amid COVID-19 crisis

Visit Oxford is normally in the midst of final preparations for the annual Double Decker Arts Festival in late April, but this year is different.

Due to COVID-19, Oxford’s tourism office has shifted its priorities around from marketing Oxford as a destination location to helping keep those businesses when they need it the most.

Through an initiative called “Love Local,” Visit Oxford is providing different ways people can support their favorite local stores and restaurants through their website.

“We are committed to promoting efforts that will help our tourism partners and their employees during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” said Kinney Ferris, executive director of Visit Oxford. “We depend on them to make Oxford a destination that is special and now they need our support more than ever.”

Visitors to Oxford spent $177.3 million in 2019. Tourism is one of the largest sectors of employment in Oxford and Lafayette County supporting 2,260 jobs, or 8.6 percent of the total jobs in the community.

One of the ways people can help is what Visit Oxford is calling a tip roulette. Partnering with website serviceindustry.tips, people can virtually tip a local hospitality worker by tipping the first worker that shows up, or you can refresh the page to see another name. There are currently more than 100 hospitality workers in Oxford listed on the site.

Another option is purchasing gift cards at local restaurants. USA Today created a website for people around the world to support their local merchants called “Support Local.”  The website serves as a database for local businesses to link their website with the option to buy a gift card online.

“While everyone is working from home and practicing social distancing, the question remains: ‘How can I help?'” Ferris said. “There are ways to show your support from the comfort of your laptop or smartphone.”

All of the listed ideas and other options can be found on Visit Oxford’s website by clicking on a banner at the top of their homepage.