Two years of devastating hurricanes and high gas prices may finally be taking a toll on Florida’s tourism industry.
For the first time in more than a dozen years, California has knocked Florida off the top of the list of destinations Americans want to visit.
Tourism experts say Florida may have to start spending some serious bucks to get back on top.
A new national survey found just 32 percent of people asked are very interested in visiting Florida. That’s down eight percentage points from the same survey a year ago. It also means Florida lost out to California as the top destination for the first time in the survey’s 14-year history.
The survey results were a downer for Visit Florida’s marketing guru Dale Brill, but not a surprise. “It’s something we’ve been warning our stakeholders about for two years. There’s a perfect storm brewing for competition for Florida. We’re outspent by at least five different states on marketing.”
In fact, Florida spends just 12 million dollars on advertising its number-one industry, tourism, compared to the 76 million Las Vegas spends on TV commercials alone.
Add in the crushing blow of two summers of hurricanes, and marketers fear vacationers and conventioneers are more likely now to consider other destinations.
But Jeb Bush isn’t too worried about the new poll. Florida’s just coming off another year of record visitors, 86 million in 2005. “The best poll is the actual poll. The actual poll is the people coming with their pocketbooks full and on the planes and in their cars to come visit us.”
Still, tourism experts fear if Florida doesn’t start putting more money into luring visitors and competing with other states, our economy will eventually pay the price.
Visit Florida is also looking close to home to pump up the tourism economy. The marketing agency recently launched a 1.6 million dollar ad campaign to encourage Floridians to take a summer vacation in their home state.