Industry Outlook 2006 - Tourism
Packing Them In
Tourism experts predict a solid year for businesses that rely on tourism.
REASON TO SMILE: All indicators point to a brisk season for tourism, industry followers say.
Local experts predict the pace of tourism in Florida will likely eclipse the rest of the nation, which is expected to see growth of about 2% this year. Bob Bosselman, director of the Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University, says he has seen more companies interested in recruiting his students now than at any other time in the past five years. "Most are getting multiple offers," he says, "which suggests to me a very strong 2006."
Bosselman credits the coming boom to an adjustment in the mindset of Americans: "People have finally adjusted to a post-9/11 world," he says. Florida hotels, he adds, are destined to do particularly well thanks in large part to the fact that they did not overbuild after Sept. 11. Now, as demand is increasing, higher room rates are sticking. "They're going to be fairly cash rich," Bosselman predicts.
Abe Pizam, dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, expects a brisk season for tourism during the first half of 2006 but worries the threat of hurricanes could have a depressive effect on the industry. "The big question is what will happen in the summer," he says.
Every indicator she's seen, says Carol B. Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, also suggests that tourism will "continue to be strong." Even after Hurricane Wilma slammed into Florida, Dover says the hoteliers she spoke with reported that their numbers were up.
Most popular domestic or international destinations for travel this winter:
Top 5 agent recommendations for the best "warm weather" domestic or international destinations for travel this winter:
Source: AAA surveyed its travel agents in October 2005, asking about travel during the winter season