Florida still reeling in tourists

Margaret Wilson has been making annual pilgrimages to Florida from London for 20 years. "The sun and the beaches and the laid back attitude and the ability to eat outdoors and live outdoors," are the reasons she says.

That comment, and her accent, are music to the ears of local tourism officials.
As part of National Tourism Week, Rozeta Mahboubi with the Martin County Convention and Visitors Bureau put together a video on tourism's importance to the region. "People are spending as soon as they enter into your destination, they're importing dollars into your economy."

The latest figures from October of last year to March of this year show big gains in bed tax dollars... 11-percent in both St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.  

St. Lucie County Tourism Manager Charlotte Lombard says they recently overhauled their website for the first time in 8 years, and last December saw a 25-percent surge from the previous year. "We attribute it to a slowly improving economy. Club Med, our biggest property in Port St. Lucie is consistently doing well."

"While there's no question that Florida's beaches and natural beauty are the biggest lures for tourists, there are a lot of other things happening locally bringing in visitors now or soon will in the future.

The Elliot Museum in Stuart will reopen in January and the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum north of Fort Pierce has seen record numbers of visitors.

Even with a mild winter up north, tourism officials say down south, it's almost back to where it was before the economic downturn. Almost... so that means their work isn't done drawing people back to the sun.

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