Pow Wow: Ash dents Florida sales rebound

The effects of the volcanic ash cloud tallied with a late booking market driven by the general election and the World Cup mean that Florida is unlikely to see UK visitor numbers  return to 2008 levels this year.

Colin Brodie, UK director of Visit Florida, said there had been a 10% drop in UK visitors in 2009 from between 1.4 and 1.5 million in 2008.

And although business had improved at the start of this year, he said the ash crisis had put the brakes on a recovery.

“Business was pretty flat last year but towards the end of the year we had some positive growth and that continued until April,” he said.

“We can’t really [accurately] estimate as there continue to be so many variables, so I think we will do well just to stay level with last year.”

Brodie said the Euro-Sterling exchange rate meant that the US still remained a good value destination even with a dollar rate of around $1.50 to the pound.

And he said that the ash crisis may have a silver lining for agents who could capitalise on consumers’ desire for the security of a package holiday.

“The experience of all customers stuck in Florida was extremely positive, and there is no doubt that the trade has been reinvigorated as customers look for the security of a package,” he said.

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