August 25, 2009

Florida tourism facing grim realities

Florida's tourism business is looking at continued tough times and will have to innovate to cope with the economic downturn, industry analysts say.

Gloom predominated Monday at Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's annual tourism conference in Miami Beach as industry leaders were told the tourist trade was down 10 percent since fall with no recovery expected until the middle of 2010, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The newspaper said tourism leaders spent the day discussing ways to do more with less and identify new trends, a vital task given that South Florida is facing the worst tourism slump in memory.

Crist reportedly did not offer any specific advice, instead telling attendees, Now, more than ever, is the time to promote, while not mentioning a recent $10 million cut in state funding for travel marketing.

The state's tourism marketing group, Visit Florida, said it has developed ways to use the Internet to expand its marketing efforts, even with a 30 percent smaller budget, such as by using Facebook, Twitter and social networking Web sites will cutting its television advertising buys.