Tourism & Cruises

Fort Lauderdale shooting, which claimed five cruise passengers, hasn’t impacted tourism — yet

Scene at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday were a gunman killed five people and injured six others.
Scene at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday were a gunman killed five people and injured six others. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Despite the tragic nature of last week’s deadly shooting at a baggage carousel in Fort Lauderdale, the tourism town’s appeal appears unharmed, says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We are not seeing any effect on tourism as a result of this senseless and random act,” Ritter said in a statement. “We are confident that the goodwill we have built with visitors will assure our continued tourism popularity and success.”

But other cities hit by violence haven’t fared as well.

We are not seeing any effect on tourism as a result of this senseless and random act.

Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

After a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando in June, Central Florida suffered three months of the biggest drops in hotel demand of 2016, according to data and analytics firm STR. In June, demand dropped 2.7 percent year over year, followed by a 3.6 percent dip in July and a drop of 2.7 percent in August. In the four days following the shooting, demand dropped between 12.1 and 18.7 percent, year over year.

During that time, the city also grappled with the death of a 2-year-old boy who was killed by an alligator at a Walt Disney World hotel in the same week of the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead.

In Europe, where multiple mass shootings and terror attacks have occurred in the past decade, attacks have resulted in as much as double-digit declines in hotel occupancy in the three months after the incident, according to an analysis by STR. It reviewed the 2004 Madrid train bombing, the July 2005 attack on London’s transit system, the November 2015 attacks in Paris and the government lockdown in Brussels the same month.

When asked during a press conference Thursday afternoon whether the Fort Lauderdale shooting had impacted travel to Fort Lauderdale, Gov. Rick Scott emphasized instead the importance of marketing during times of crisis.

“Anybody that doesn’t think we ought to market our state, you know you look at things like this or you look at Zika, we’ve got to keep telling people why they should come to our state,” Scott said.

In Europe, attacks have resulted in as much as double-digit declines in hotel occupancy in the three months after the incident, according to an analysis by STR.

So far, the shooting also hasn’t impacted the cruise industry, despite all five victims of the attack at the Terminal 2 baggage claim area in Fort Lauderdale being identified as cruise passengers on their way to a ship. Port Everglades, one of the world’s three busiest cruise ports, is a five-minute drive from the airport.

Spokespeople for Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America and Princess Cruises said the shooting has not impacted business. Royal Caribbean International, which also has a strong presence at Port Everglades, declined to comment saying the cruise line is not speaking about business matters prior to an upcoming earnings report.

Cruise lines in port on Friday and through the weekend worked to accommodate passengers displaced by the chaos and ensuing airport delays.

Holland America Line, whose Nieuw Amsterdam was one of two ships in port the day of the shooting, delayed departure until about 11 p.m. The line also offered counseling services for passengers sailing with Holland America through the weekend via emergency management company Empathia.

Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess was also in port that Friday. It delayed that ship and two others scheduled to sail that weekend and offered free hotels, meals and transportation to those affected.

Carnival Cruise Line, whose Carnival Victory was scheduled to depart that day from PortMiami, offered guests who missed the ship’s 5 p.m. departure a hotel and worked with the airlines to help delayed passengers fly to Nassau and meet up with the ship there. Travelers unable to get to South Florida due to the shooting were allowed to rebook their cruise for a later time, Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said.

Royal Caribbean International, which had four ships in South Florida between Port Everglades and PortMiami over the weekend, extended departure times to accommodate late guests.

It has not yet been made public which cruise ships the victims were scheduled to sail on at the time of the shooting.

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