Following the mass shooting of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June, and a deadly alligator attack of a 2-year-old boy at Walt Disney World that same week, security heightened and travel insurance purchases spiked, but travelers appear to be undeterred in their Orlando vacation plans.

“The shooting tragedy in Orlando occurred on Sunday, June 12. On Monday and Tuesday [June 13 and 14], we saw significant increases in traffic and new users to the site,” said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of travel insurance comparison site TravelInsurance.com. Sandberg noted that when compared to the prior four Mondays and Tuesdays, TravelInsurance.com experienced a 47% increase in traffic and a 64% increase in new users on June 13 and 14.

While travel insurance inquiries may have been on the rise post-Orlando attacks, travel sellers reported that families were still going ahead with their planned vacations to Orlando, home to numerous popular theme parks including the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.

“I just made a Disney booking yesterday, for 2017, and the subject never came up. Most people I have talked to realize that this was an unforeseen, isolated incident and I do not expect this to affect Disney or Florida bookings,” said Joseph Hurley, owner of Forest Hill, Md.-based Hurley World Travel, who was referring specifically to the alligator incident.

Karen McAlpin, a family travel specialist at Birmingham, Ala.-based McAlpin Travel, said she too hadn’t heard from any clients with concerns or cancellations for Orlando or the theme parks. “In fact, I have a family of five at the Grand Floridian right now,” said McAplin.

Lane Graves, a 2-year-old boy from Elkhorn, Nebraska, was snatched by an alligator and dragged underwater while wading in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on Wednesday, June 15.

Soon after the attack, the Walt Disney World Resort began installing signs and barriers along its beaches that specifically warned of the dangers of alligators and snakes in the area, and to stay away from the water. The old signage in the area had simply warned against swimming.

Disney has also increased its security presence at the parks following media reports that the Pulse nightclub gunman, Omar Mateen, conducted what authorities labeled as surveillance trips at the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex before ultimately carrying out his attack at the Pulse nightclub near downtown Orlando.

“We have increased our security measures across our properties, adding such visible safeguards as magnetometers, additional canine units, and law enforcement officers on site, as well as less visible systems that employ state-of-the-art security technologies,” Jacquee Wahler, vice president of the Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement. 

Disney’s vigilant security measures has helped Sue Pisaturo of Disney specialist agency Small World Vacations thwart any concerns expressed by nervous clients about heading to Disney World.

Said Pisaturo, “We’ve had only a few guests who contacted their agents about the tragedies. We assured them that Disney's No. 1 priority is safety. No one has cancelled or changed dates.” She noted that requests for price quotes slowed down a bit during the week after the attacks but that the following week, when Disney released its 2017 Walt Disney World travel packages, business was busy again.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI