Another Coronavirus Casualty: Florida Tourism

16 Sep 2020 1:12 PM
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Florida, with some 580-thousand persons infected by the coronavirus, ranks behind only California in the total number of cases. A fresh report describes the impact the pandemic is having on one of Florida's most significant industries, tourism.

In the second quarter of the year-April, May and June-the state's tourism agency estimates 60% fewer people traveled to Florida compared to the same period a year earlier. That is clearly a decline of almost 20 million visitors.

Just two years ago, visitors from the U.S. and overseas contributed a lot more than $90 billion to Florida's economy. With the onset of the coronavirus and the resulting lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions, the tourism agency Visit Florida says in the second quarter the vast majority of the visitors, 98%, were from the U.S. With international travel largely at a standstill, visitors from overseas declined by 91% compared with this past year. Even Canadian residents, a mainstay of Florida's tourist economy, fell by 99%.

The decline of tourism has already established a profound effect on Florida's economy. Thousands of folks lost their jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector. The cratering of tourism can be hurting state and local governments that rely upon sales and hotel tax revenues. Florida's Office of Economic and Demographic Research says sales tax revenues were down $1.6 billion from projections, largely due to the decline of tourism.