Hurricane Irma threatens Florida’s tourism industry

Published on : Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Florida’s tourism industryHurricane Irma’s destruction trail in Florida’s Gulf Coast threatens to disrupt a thriving state tourism industry just before the busy winter travel season.

Some of the state’s biggest attractions have announced temporary closures, including Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Legoland and Sea World.

Last year, nearly 113 million people visited Florida, setting a new record, and spending $109 billion.

About 20 cruise lines in Miami have had to move ships out of the area and modify their schedules.

Irma made a second Florida landfall on Sunday on southwestern Marco Island as a Category 3 storm bringing winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph) and life-threatening sea waves. Many cruise ships were canceled as a result of the storm’s impact.

Florida is one of the world’s top tourism destinations. The damage Irma’s winds and storm surge do to Florida’s 660 miles (1,060 km) of beaches and the structures built along them will be critical to how quickly the state’s tourism industry recovers.

The low-lying barrier islands would be inundated if Irma’s storm surge reaches forecast heights of as high as 15 feet (4.6 meters). While few newer structures in the area are built on elevated pilings, many older homes and businesses are not. Hence, they stand the chance of getting destroyed.

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