Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tourism Losses Add Up to $27.8 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tourism Losses Add Up to $27.8 Million

Article excerpt

Byline: Moshay Simpson, Times-Union business writer

Let the numbers speak for themselves.

Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau said First Coast hotels lost $27.8 million worth of business between Sept. 11's terrorist attacks and this Tuesday.

During that time, 211 groups planning to stay in town over the next several months canceled their reservations or rescheduled. That was a total loss of 18,268 hotel room nights.

"The actual figure is probably three times that amount," former bureau chairman Fred Pozin said at its annual meeting yesterday at the Jacksonville Marriott Hotel in Southside.

The current numbers could grow as area hotels continue to report cancellations and revenue cuts, said Stacy Badics, bureau communications manager. If consumer confidence isn't boosted, the hospitality industry stands to lose as much as $100 million.

"It's bad. We knew it was bad," said bureau President Kitty Ratcliffe. "We just didn't have enough hard numbers yet."

Last week's tally of post-attack hotel impacts were rather conservative because the bureau reported only four group cancellations.

As the nation has started to return to normal, 30 of the 211 group cancellations have rescheduled, adding 3,808 room nights back to hotel calenders.

Welcome to Florida tourism, post-Sept. 11. The state's leading revenue generator, with $50 billion annually, is in dire straits. The same could be said for conventions and tourism in greater Jacksonville. The industry brought $2.89 billion in revenue to hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related business in the region last year, according to the bureau.

Last week, tourism industry leaders statewide reported to Gov. Jeb Bush during a conference that they were severely affected by an already lagging economy. And that was before the New York and Washington attacks, which have disrupted air travel. …

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