Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad Economy or Not, Fort Lauderdale Says 'No Thanks' to Spring Break

As Fort Lauderdale's cruise business continues to grow, with Port Everglades anticipating 2.14 million cruisers this year and Royal Caribbean's 5,400-passenger Oasis, MSC Cruises' Orchestra, Carnival's Carnival Freedom and Princess Cruises' Tahitian Princess all making first-time sailings from the port, Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, anticipates questions of welcoming spring breakers back to the destination whenever she meets with local hospitality industry colleagues. To her pleasure, the collective answer continues to be a steadfast "no."

For more than 20 years, this former South Florida student getaway has hung a philosophical "No Vacancy" sign for the wild and rowdy college crowd and a welcome mat for couples, families, friends on a getaway, international visitors and convention delegates.

"Returning to spring break as a quick tourism fix in a tough economy," said Grossman, who has been at the helm of Broward County's tourism marketing organization since 1995, "is clearly not the answer. Our decision to end spring break in 1986 has driven visitor growth from one half million annually to 10.8 million visitors in 2008. It has allowed us to attract a significant investment in hotel, retail, and restaurant development and build a first-class airport and convention center. And, a very small part of the visitor mix is about 15,000 students who visit each year in the springtime to enjoy our beaches."

That's good news for cruise passengers planning pre- and post-cruise stays in the Fort Lauderdale area who won't have to compete with rowdy college students for hotel rooms or put up with their antics.

What about spring breakers who want to take a cruise? Young adults need to know that For Cruise Travel, Age Matters.

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