Tampa, Fla. (WFLA) – With gas prices inching closer and closer to the $5 per gallon mark in the Tampa Bay area, one might think that Florida’s tourism industry could take a hit this summer. However, insiders say that is not the case.
Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida, and Carol Dover, CEO of the Florida Lodging and Restaurant Association, both spoke in Sarasota on Monday at “Meet Thoughts: Tourism Florida State” by The Argus Foundation. WFLA caught up with both before the event took place.
Young said that despite pump prices being at all-time highs, tourism in Florida is still thriving.
“Demand is so high we don’t really see a drop in tourism due to inflation and rising gas prices,” said Young. “What we are seeing are more family trips. Airfares are getting more and more expensive, so more and more people choose to drive. So they can take road trips and make their vacations in the state of Florida. “
Dover also had similar thoughts. With so many destinations in the state, she says, high gas prices are convincing Floridians to explore and relax in their backyard.
“We’re seeing a lot of travel in the state, which is fantastic,” Dover said. “Going within your state is a lot cheaper than outside of your state to take a vacation.”
The AAA Auto Club recently released a study indicating that Floridians are now commuting more comfortably than at any time since the pandemic began.
“We have received feedback from travelers eager to return to normalcy and it looks like the time has finally come,” said Vice President of Tourism Debbie Haas. “Travel bookings are skyrocketing, with people tired of being at home ready to explore new destinations and reconnect with family and friends.”
The study further revealed that, although inflation is driving up costs, many Floridians are not canceling their trips. AAA says 26% of locals are taking the road instead of flying, and some say they plan to stay in cheaper apartments to save money.
Dover said that while the numbers look good for now, rising prices at the pump and everywhere else is definitely a cause for concern.
“Obviously we’re concerned,” Dover said. “Gasoline price increased by 43.3% today. Airlines are up 33%, so that makes us a little nervous. But, I believe one thing we’ve done well is also remind Floridians to get around in the state. “
https://www.wfla.com/news/sarasota-county/rising-gas-prices-shouldnt-impact-florida-tourism-experts-say/ Gas prices Florida tourism