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FL - Florida's Tourism Industry Caught Between Virus Protections and Profits

'It's absolutely critical for the recovery of our state economy,' Visit Florida president says

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If Florida is going to rebound from COVID-19, its tourism industry needs to recover -- and it won't be easy. The state's travel officials have to balance success with safety as more infectious virus variants continue to spread.

The hottest months of travel season are ahead for Florida -- spring break, summer vacations and those quick getaways.

"Oh my gosh, yes," said Peggy Rigsby, a North Florida resident and recent retiree. "I love traveling."

Rigsby had been looking forward to it until COVID-19 concerns canceled her plans in 2020 and beyond.

"I haven't scheduled any for 2021 because I don't really know what's going to happen," she said.

That hesitancy isn’t uncommon. Recent national polling by IPX1031, a Chicago-based financial services company, shows a lot of travel apprehension -- especially by air. Only 48% of Americans were planning to book flights in 2021. Most people, 80%, wanted to wait until next year.

Enter the state's tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida. After a 34% drop in visitors in 2020, the lowest since 2010, officials are now ramping up efforts to recover.

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