TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida's economy, already staggered by a stagnant real estate market and tight credit conditions, is also being hurt by a drop in tourism, which officials said tourism fell by 1.5 million visitors in 2007.
Preliminary estimates showed 82.4 million people visited Florida in 2007, compared to 83.9 who came in 2006. It was the first drop-off in visitors to Florida since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the northeast.
"Trends suggest that some vacationers traveling by auto may be staying closer to home," said Bud Nocera, president and CEO of Visit Florida, the state's private-public tourism agency.
The Legislature's top economist, Amy Baker, said the national recession was largely responsible for the state's tourism downturn.
"The two places you'd see it the most are in sales tax collections and rental car surcharges," Baker said. "The housing was a homegrown problem, the tourism is not."