Hurricanes Hurting Florida's Economy Long-Term

Frank and Molly Bernier have enjoyed using their RV in Florida since they retired from Michigan. But they’re thinking twice now after Florida’s four hurricanes.

Molly Bernier, tourist, said, “storms scare the heck out of me to begin with so it would be a great consideration to us.”

The storms have been a public relations nightmare for a state dependent on its $50 billion a year tourism industry.

Frank Bernier, said, “if the hurricanes are coming, we’re not coming down, there’s no two ways about it.”

The people wctv6 talked to are not alone. A new survey shows one out of five Florida visitors may not come back because of all the storms.

At Florida State University’s school of hospitality, professor Mark Bonn says the convention business could take a big hit. Bonn said, “they’re the ones that have to bring down the largest numbers of people representing associations and companies so they’ll be out, probably looking carefully about having, booking conventions and meetings here in Florida.”

Many of Florida’s more than 300,000 small businesses also depend on the tourism trade. After being closed for weeks or even months from storm damage and power outages, Florida chief financial officer Tom Gallagher says some may not reopen.

Gallagher said, “when a hurricane comes in and rips a community apart, it also ruins its many small businesses. They have tremendous losses; they have a very tough time getting back in business.”

The key for many will be trying to survive until the federal assistance checks come in, and praying the tourists come back.