Florida Fires 'Not Tourism Threat'


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- President Clinton declared all of Florida's 67 counties disaster areas because of wildfires and drought.

Most fires were well outside major cities and resort areas, although some were reported near here, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville.

"[Florida's] beaches, golf courses and hotels are still open for visitors," said Frank (Bud) Nocera, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Visit Florida, the public-private visitor promotion group.

There may be temporary closures of some roadways, he said, and Amtrak trains are subject to sudden diversion.

The state banned campfires, and some cities and attractions will cancel July 4 fireworks. Walt Disney World, which has nightly fireworks, is keeping surroundings damp. Disney room bookings are normal, a spokeswoman said.

Tourist offices in Cape Canaveral, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Panama City and Sanford reported fire inquiries but no flurry of cancellations. Fewer than a dozen cancellations occurred in the St. Augustine area, a tourism official said.

Nocera said retailers can try to put a positive spin on the wildfire situation: "Tell clients that nobody is complaining about mosquitoes."

For regional road updates, agents can call the Florida Department of Transportation at (800) 749-2967 in Florida; (904) 758-3700 elsewhere.

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