Hurricane Ian Could Cost Florida $8 Billion in Tourism Losses; Hopes of Recovery Before Peak Travel Season

Hurricane Ian, Florida, ABC source: youtube
Via ABC on youtube

Thousands of people remain unaccounted for and already, dozens of deaths have been confirmed in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, which swept across the state last week.

The death toll is expected to continue to rise as recovery efforts continue, complicated by washed-out roads and bridges, wide-spread power outages, wi-fi and cell phone service disruptions and even the lack of safe drinking water.

In addition to the human costs, experts have begun tallying the financial toll of the devastating hurricane on Florida - and especially, its impact on tourism, one of the state’s most essential economic engines.

A number of reports are calling Ian the most expensive storm in Florida’s history, with both insured and uninsured losses reaching hundreds of billions of dollars.

And a U.S. Coast Guard officer, describing flights over some parts of Florida, called some areas “unrecognizable.”

Popular Travel Destinations Transformed

A number of beloved Florida destinations have been changed beyond recognition, and in some cases, it’s feared beyond restoration to the scenarios that made them so appealing to travellers.

The worst-hit part of the state appears to be the south-west portion, where Ian, at its strongest, made initial landfall.

Reports say parts of Fort Myers and Naples have been “annihilated.” 

Popular Sanibel Island’s causeway bridge was severed by the storm, and the barrier island itself left “utterly devastated, from its infrastructure to its famously idyllic aesthetic character,” describes a report in Skift.  Many shoreside structures were demolished, and the city’s manager reports damage to public services including electric (“pretty much destroyed”), sewer (“badly damaged”), and public water supply (“under assessment”).

Cost to Florida Tourism Could Reach $8 Billion

Analysts have started crunching the numbers already.

One analyst told CBS that 10 per cent of Florida’s annual tourism revenue may have been wiped out. That represents USD $8 billion in losses.

The estimates take into account both “the physical damage and the disruption from people cancelling travel plans.”

However, even these devastating analyses come with a silver lining: Hurricane Ian arrived before peak travel season to the state.

Chuck Watson, of Enki Research, which calculates the costs of natural disasters, told CBS, “At least it is the off-season. They have time to rebuild and recover,” before peak season beginning at U.S. Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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