Could High Gas Prices Affect Florida's Tourism Industry?

Gas prices hit an average $1.90 a gallon for regular unleaded Tuesday. Some say it could put a damper on the state's economy.

Fred Billy vacations in a small, fuel efficient motor home, but sky-high gas prices mean his travel costs are definitely starting to add up.

"We do a lot of driving and it does, it really does. I was thinking yesterday, we're probably doing 60 dollars more a month for gasoline than we were, say, six months ago," says Billy.

State officials now fear the gas crisis could start affecting the number of visitors coming to Florida and with a 50-plus billion dollar a year tourism industry, they don't want people staying home.

About half of Florida's 75 million tourists drove into the state last year. Millions also arrive by plane. Even Jeb Bush is concerned.

"Our state's economy is dependent on people driving here and for airlines to have affordable fuel. Most of the airlines are, but a handful, are having serious financial problems already so this could have an impact on the economy," Gov. Jeb Bush says.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist was frustrated when his meetings with oil execs this spring didn't result in a price drop. Now, he's talking with economic experts to see if suing would make sense.

"I'm not sympathetic to the price of gas going up and up and up as it relates to the oil companies, there must be something I think we can do to try to drive it back down and we're looking into it," says Crist.

But even with gas prices at record highs Americans appear unwilling to give up their road trips. The Billy’s say visiting the grandkids is worth a few more dollars a fill-up. The AAA motor club reports in spite of record-high gas prices, requests for road trip information are actually up 13 percent over this time last year.


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