Florida Tourism On The Brink?
While I am always focused on the new industries emerging in Florida, we would be kidding ourselves to think that our economy is diversified enough to survive a significant drop in tourism. But sadly that prospect is now staring us in the face thanks to two serious issues. We have always celebrated our status as a melting pot, especially for our neighbors from Latin America. But now it seems that their problems are also becoming ours with respects to the Zika virus from Brazil. At this point the virus has been contained to a small area in Miami called Wynwood and thus far has been under control. But the reality is sometimes not as important as perception, and if the perception of Zika is that it is spreading and getting worse then people will stop coming to Miami. It is that simple and could be extremely difficult to recover from.
Unfortunately running in tandem with Zika is the toxic algae blooms that have invaded our beaches again. It kills fish, makes sand turn a green color, contains toxic bacteria, and has an awful stench. It is a result of climate change and is this is the eighth time since 2004 that it has happened in South Florida. Right now it is only affecting the beaches in Martin and St. Lucie counties so the response has been relatively subdued given the limited population there. But what do you think would happen if this was going on in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale or Miami? I am not someone who believes in blaming people for things, it is just counterproductive, but this is a rare case where the responsibility for both Zika and the algae lies solely with our elected leaders. If this is not dealt with by October or November we just might have a real crises on our hands that could be devastating economically.
I am confident that we have all the resources we need to handle these issues but not so confident that it is going to happen. But as always, I am hopeful. Tourists spent $89 billion dollars here last year so it is quite clear what is at stake for so many. That kind of money usually serves to motivate people and it should here. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.
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