Le Soleil de la Floride-July 2002
By Louis S. St.Laurent II
President and Co-Editor
Florida must wake up!
Broward had a decrease of 16% in tourism this year, according to the latest figures released by Visit Florida. Miami-Dade?s decrease was 4% and Palm Beach also had a decrease. During this same period of time Cuba and Mexico increased their incentive to Canadian tourist and Cuba may or is providing medical services to Canadian tourist whose medical insurance does not cover them while outside of Canada. Cuba has even mentioned the idea of the creation of permanent facilities for long term tourist from Canada (snowbirds).
Against this effort by other tourist destination areas, Florida faces proposed traveling restrictions on Canadian tourist and snowbirds which will affect the economy of this state. Florida Governor Jeb Bush is making every effort to limit the proposed travel restrictions on tourist as this state would be more affected than any other state. South Florida, the destination of many French Canadians, could suffer one of it?s worse tourist seasons this coming year if the travel restrictions are not intelligently enforced at the U.S. border by those patrol officers, having the authority but not the training, of deciding whether a snowbird has answered the right questions to be permitted to stay the full six months in their second home in Florida.
This newspaper again will be attending the International Tourism and Travel Show in Montreal, Canada on October 25-27,2002, to promote the State of Florida and the newspaper?s advertisers. This is the largest tourist event in Quebec and we hope that the State of Florida and the various convention bureaus in south Florida are well represented.
The number of flights from Canada to South Florida have decreased, especially to the airport serving Broward County. One Canadian airline closed after the terrible events of September 11. The number of Canadian Charter flights to Fort Lauderdale has decreased to one weekly flight to and from Montreal. The difficulty and expense of flying direct to Fort Lauderdale from Montreal or Quebec has restricted the number of tourist from that area of Canada.
This area of the state is still one of the most attractive one for any tourist. However advertising and promotional events are still needed to make up the loss of tourism since September 11. For over 50 years Canadians and especially French Canadians have been visiting South Florida. Former Prime Minister Louis S. St.Laurent is pictured, in the mid-50?s, at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale with members of his family with a prize size sail fish. Present Prime Minister Jean Cretien is known to vacation in Palm Beach County and Celine Dion has a home in South Florida.
The French Canadian tourist and snowbirds are valuable commodities to all tourist destination areas such as the Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico. They can no longer be taken for granted. Florida might even consider some type of health assistance plan or special insurance supplement for Canadians to increase the number of tourists from Canada. New ideas are necessary in these trying times and we should be prepared for the new U.S. travel restrictions which may have more of an impact on Florida tourism than we expected.