9881 NW 54 PLACE CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA 33076 (954) 346-0073

Le Soleil de la Floride-May 2002


By Louis S. St.Laurent II
President and Co-Editor

The Canadian tourist in Florida is taken for granted!

Last year Florida had an increase of 13% in Canadian tourist and this year it appears that the preliminary figures will show a decrease of at least 20% in tourism in this part of the state. This will include a large decrease in Canadian tourists. There does not appear to have been any effort made by various state and county agencies to bring the French Canadian tourist back to Florida this year after the acts of terrorism on September 11,2001. Although the federal and state governments did an excellent job in increasing the level of security for the traveling public, this effort was not conveyed in the Quebec news media in an effort to eliminate the continued fear of some tourists in coming to Florida this year. This newspaper, without any support from the various governmental and private agencies responsible for promoting Florida tourism, stressed the safety of Florida travel in various articles and stories distributed in the Quebec market.

The French Canadian tourists have always preferred vacationing in southeast Florida. Even after the terrible events of September 11, the agencies in this area of Florida ignored the French Canadian tourist thinking that they would return regardless of whether efforts were made to attract this segment of tourism. It?s true that the French Canadian tourists have been coming to this area for over 50 years and many years ago advertising in the Quebec news media was not necessary. However times have changed and so has the world of tourism. Ask the hotel and restaurant owners and merchants on the Hollywood boardwalk and the merchants in the Riverwalk entertainment center in Fort Lauderdale whether they had a successful tourist season. Most will tell you that it was not a good tourist season.

In spite of less than perfect weather 100,000 Canadians crowded the boardwalk on Hollywood Beach for the Canadafest festival held on the second week-end of February. Merchants are advising us that the Canadafest week-end was their best week-end on the boardwalk in spite of the threat of rain for the two day event. The city of Hollywood also advised us that this festival was the only festival that did not show an appreciable decrease in attendance. However this newspaper, which is also distributed extensively in Quebec, and which sponsored this event, advertised Canadafest extensively for five months after the events of September 11. Canadafest received little or no coverage from the local news media. The Miami Herald even dropped it?s sponsorship of Canadafest this year as did the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. This Broward County agency was created by the Board of Broward County Commissioners and funded by a portion of the five percent tax on hotel rooms. The agency was founded to promote the Greater Fort Lauderdale area as a premier leisure and meeting destination.

With the drop in Florida in tourism this year, special events such as Canadafest, and other promotions, become much more important in drawing Canadian tourists to this state. Florida is no longer the only winter destination for Canadians and countries such as Mexico, Bahamas and Cuba, have aggressively sought and taken away some of the Canadian tourists from Florida while this state and county ignored promoting tourism in the Quebec market.