Make us your home page
Instagram

Tourist industry pitches Florida to the locals as recession puts brakes on travel

TAMPA — With nervous consumers looking for bargains, local tourist businesses are setting their sights on Florida residents this summer.

"People want to travel, but with less expense," Gregg Laskowski, a spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, told representatives from local hotels and attractions Thursday. "They want to stay closer to home."

Hotels, airlines and other travel-related companies nationwide have taken big hits recently, mostly from corporate frugality in the recession. The travel industry hopes a decent summer vacation season will stop the slide.

"We have to do whatever we can to rebuild confidence to travel to (places) close to you," said Mark Bonn, a Florida State hospitality professor and tourism researcher. "People need to think it's okay to take these trips and feel good about it."

A discount card for food and lodging deals for Floridians, called the Florida Backyard Card, will be unveiled next week by Gov. Charlie Crist and trade groups, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

AAA Auto Club South — with travel agencies in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee — will promote Tampa Bay attractions in its members magazine.

Bonn released some grim statistics for Hillsborough tourism last year. An estimated 16.1 million visitors came to the county, down 4.2 percent from 2007. They spent $2.73 billion, a 14 percent decline.

The number of overnight visitors rose 1 percent to 4.61 million. But on average, their stay was a half-day shorter at 3.6 days.

AAA reported slight declines last year in Florida travel for all five big travel holidays, from Memorial Day weekend through Christmas. "We can't see anything reversing that trend" for this year, Laskowski said.

Tourist industry pitches Florida to the locals as recession puts brakes on travel 03/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 12:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]