It is hard to measure the full economic impact of hurricane Irma on Florida's tourism industry. What is certain however is that the economic impact will be substantial. As folks scramble to repair homes and business, many without power, the economic aftermath is already being felt by the smaller travel businesses such as Miami tour operators, Everglades tour operators. Like a rock thrown into a pond, the hardships will ripple out throughout Florida's tourism and tours industry.
With an estimated $90bn tourism industry, Florida will undoubtedly feel the reeling economic effects of hurricane Irma. Particularly hard hit will be the small mom-and-pop Miami tour operators, as environmental factors weigh in.
The damage caused by hurricane Irma to the Florida Keys has been extensive. In August 2017, Florida proudly announced a record-setting number of visitors to its beaches – over 60 million tourists coming to experience its theme parks, beaches, and other draws, since January.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, this once thriving tourist industry is facing major challenges. The desolation caused by one of the history's largest storms, particularly in the current Florida Keys, is a direct swipe at this $90bn industry that fuels the state’s economic engine, with the harm caused as incalculable, experts say, at least in the short term.
Florida's endless miles of sandy beaches are also its bread and water. Tourists are drawn to its beaches and theme parks, most distinctly Disney World and Universal Studios. And visitors drive billions of dollars<strong> </strong>into the state's market every year.
And for the southern chain of islets distinguished as the Florida Keys, which are presumed to take a direct hit from Irma, tourism is the single largest industry. It represents $2.7 billion of sales a year, 60% of spending and 54% of jobs in the region.
It's not peak period for <strong>Miami tours</strong> visiting the Keys, yet authorities and business leaders are worried about the damage Irma has inflicted on the hotels and other buildings in the area. If Irma leaves significant damage it, it could be a major problem for the local economy.
Boat tours of Miami are down more than twenty percent and Miami bus tours are by at least as much. A slowdown of tourist arrives is already beginning to take its toll.
Nonetheless, the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in nearly 12 years, Irma forced some destinations such as the Florida Keys to tell travelers to delay trips because of damage to key tourism infrastructure. Other municipalities have already healed, making the chore of marketing to tourists from a statewide prospect rather involved.
Executives at Visit Florida, the state’s destination marketing organization, estimate that Florida received some $500 million worth of negative publicity Florida because of the storm and more than 5.5 trillion impressions on and offline – on top of the billions of dollars worth of damage the state received from the storm.
Floridians from Jacksonville to Orlando to the Keys are still stumbling from Hurricane Irma’s impact, but the state’s economy should rebound fairly quickly, one statistician states, as soon as the lights come back on.--