The US dollar is strong right now and it is taking its toll on tourism in Southwest Florida. According to Walter Klages, an analyst of Data Research Services, he does not expect the dollar to lose its strong footing but international travellers to the United States will experience less buying power for the foreseeable future. Klages further said that the US economy is not insulated from the rest of the world and the critical element is the dollar.

In Canada, tourism was down by 23.5% in Manatee County in December because the number of European travellers dropped by 4.9% during the month. Manatee’s tourism bureau is improving its advertising strategies in Dallas, Houston and Iceland to build awareness.

Icelandair has added non-stop services to Tampa International Airport since September to create greater and more convenient access to the Scandinavian market. If the Manatee brand is successfully promoted in Texas, it can provide the Bradenton area with the upper hand if in case the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport decides on a non-stop flight to one of the Texas hubs.

Elliot Falcione, the executive director of Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau does not have any plans of giving up on the weakening markets because eventually, Bradenton Area could gain most of the market share if their competitors pull back from Canada and Europe. Bradenton Area has a unique appeal for travellers coming from Europe even if the dollar is strong.

According to Klages, there are strong indications of continued growth and that there will be a strong demand from European travellers. Strong growth is coming from the US, Northeast and Midwest to offset the local international lull. Plans for a 6-story hotel at the Bradenton Area Convention Centre are moving forward. Plans include a 240-seat restaurant, a 150-seat café, a fitness centre with pool, a ballroom, a 100,000 square foot courtyard for outdoor sports and water taxi service to the beaches.

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About Author: Christopher Williams