Florida says, "come back"

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From this week's edition of MeetingsNet Extra:

    With group business comprising 20 percent of Florida's tourism market--and up to 30 percent of South Florida's visitors--the health of the area's meeting business is at the forefront of Florida's hospitality community in the wake of the four devastating hurricanes that slammed Florida over the past eight weeks.

    "I think the real impact of these storms is going to be in the longer term," says Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, an Orlando-based travel marketing, advertising, and public relations firm. "Many will now consciously avoid booking destinations in Florida in that August-to-September window. I think the memory of disruption is one that will not fade quickly for meeting planners."

    That also seems to have been the consensus from the show floor at ITME, according to an article in yesterday's Miami Herald, which reported that "the expo revealed ample hurricane jitters, with some meeting planners ruling out a Florida event during hurricane season." More optimistic tourism officials said they were fielding inquiries about damage to area hotels, but remained confident that in the longer term, meetings will return.

    For a roundup of what tourism officials in Florida and the Caribbean are doing to avoid a meeting exodus, the current status of hotels in some hard-hit areas, and links to Web sites that provide regularly updated hurricane-related hospitality news, click here.

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