Hurricanes cause travelers to rethink vacation plans

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Art PfenningThe four hurricanes that ravaged the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Florida may have a lingering effect on U.S. travelers plans to visit these regions, according to a survey issued by Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell (YPB&R).

The study was conducted three days after Hurricane Jeanne left Florida. It revealed that 20% of those polled are less likely to visit Florida between now and the end of 2004.

Twenty-three percent said they are less likely to visit the Florida Panhandle during this time period; 17% said they are less likely to visit Orlando.

Island destinations also may be hard hit. Between now and the end of the year, 25% of respondents said they are less likely to visit the Dominican Republic; Jamaica, 24%; the Bahamas Out Islands, 23%; Nassau/Paradise Island, 22%; Puerto Rico, 22%; and Aruba, 20%.

The likelihood of traveling to these locations may be impacted by the perception of damage that these hurricanes have had on the destinations.

For example, 59% of those polled said that damage to the Florida Panhandle was extreme. Forty-one percent said that damage to Jamaica was extreme; Tampa/St. Petersburg, 34%; Orlando, 31%; and Miami, 27%.

Clearly, travelers have been affected by the jarring television images they have seen over the past six weeks as well as the duration of the media coverage, said Peter Yesawich, chairman of YPB&R.

But as the story of the regions recovery unfolds and winter approaches, were likely to see these negative opinions dissipate quickly, particularly if travel suppliers roll out attractive promotional offers to lure visitors back.

Art Pfenning is the research director for Northstar Travel Media, Travel Weeklys parent company. For information on how research can help your business, or if you are interested in having NTM Research conduct your next project, contact Pfenning at [email protected].

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