TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida travel industry executives expressed
some concern about the outlook for the rest of 2001 in light of an
uncertain domestic and international economy, projected higher
gasoline prices and the threat of wildfires in drought areas.
Fred Lounsberry, senior vice president of sales for Universal's
theme parks worldwide, said that although the situation "is not
alarming yet, there is cause for attention to what is going
This was the message given to Gov. Jeb Bush here last week
during the quarterly meeting of Visit Florida and its parent, the
Florida Commission on Tourism, which is chaired by the governor.
Lounsberry is a board member of the parent organization.
In Visit Florida's March newsletter sent to private sector
partners, Barry Pitegoff, the organization's research vice
president, was optimistic about Florida's prospects for the coming
The state "has often weathered economic downturns for two
compelling reasons," he said. "In hard times, consumers shy away
from risky spending. Florida is a low-risk destination because so
many visitors are already familiar with it."
The second reason, he said, is that "[visitors] can make their
visit here more economical if they need to. Historically, visitors
have been remarkable in their ability to make trade-offs in their
vacation components before canceling trips entirely."
Trade-offs include the selection of natural and historical
attractions, or cheaper meals and hotels, he said.
"The last statistic to bend is usually length of stay," he
For the state to come up with more travel advertising dollars
would require special legislation, a Visit Florida spokesman said.
Tourism is a $50 billion per year industry in Florida.