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Spring Breakers in Central Florida will boost economy, but at a cost

A beach with many people crowded on the sand.
Mark Notari
Beaches will be busy during the Spring Break Season in Central Florida

Most Central Florida students will be on Spring Break next week. Orlando International Airport is expecting some 7.3 million passengers for Spring Break beginning this week through April 18th. WMFE's Talia Blake spoke with Anca Voicu, a professor of economics at Rollins College, about how the school holiday impacts the Central Florida economy.

Anca Voicu is a professor of economics at Rollins College
PHOTO:SCOTT COOK/Scott Cook Photography
Rollins College
Anca Voicu is a professor of economics at Rollins College

Listen to the conversation in the player above.

Pros and Cons of Spring Break

Visit Orlando defines Spring Break for the Orlando travel period as a two week period around Easter Sunday.

According to Maria Henson, Head of research at Visit Orlando, Spring Break is typically the peak travel season for Orlando with almost one million overnight visitors generating more than $1 billion in visitor spending.

Rollins Professor Anca Voicu said the impact of the influx of people on the Florida community can be both positive and negative.

"On one hand, it can boost the economic activity by bringing in more tourists who will spend more money, on food, lodging , and entertainment," she said. "Now, this can create jobs, and that's great for the state of Florida and increase revenue for businesses."

But, Voicu said the large influx of people during Spring Break can also put a strain on local resources, like beaches and public transportation.

"It can also lead to increased traffic, noise, and sometimes littering. And so this can be disruptive to the local residents."

She adds that there is a public health concern as larger crowds can increase the risk of spreading infection.

That's why Voicu said it's important for both locals and tourists to be respectful of each other and to take the appropriate measures to ensure everyone's safety.

Follow The Money

In 2019, Florida's budget was $98.8 billion. Voicu said of that $15 million to $25 million was produced during Spring Break.

Visit Orlando reports that March and April account for 15% to 20% of domestic travel to Orlando, making Spring Break the peak season for the area.

Despite high inflation, the Commerce Department reports that consumers are spending more on both goods and services.

During Spring Break, Voicu said families with small children will likely spend most of their money at theme parks like Disney, while college students will be at the beach.

"Since the beaches are the number one destinations for college students, all the businesses surrounding the beaches will see the largest amount of revenues," she said.

Voicu said that include hotels and AirBnBs, restaurants, shopping malls and stores, close to the beaches.

Visitor Mix

Spring Break in Central Florida welcomes a variety of people from various backgrounds from across the state and country.

Maria Henson of Visit Orlando said, "that is probably the most diverse population that we see here when it comes to the traveler mix."

She said most of the travel to Orlando during Spring Break is domestic.

"We see a lot of visitation from the Northeast. So markets like New York or Philadelphia. We see Midwest coming in from Chicago, we see definitely more of those drive markets, like Charlotte and Atlanta."

Henson said there is also a number of visitors from the UK due to the Easter Holiday.

Where people are visiting from hasn't changed much over the past few years, but Henson said visitation has.

"When we went into 2020 that was approaching that Easter period and of course we know what happened and the pandemic set it and we did not get a benefit during 2020," she said. "2021 was definitely a different year, just for a number of different reasons. 2022 we saw a really strong Spring Break period. We actually surpassed pre pandemic levels by 2% during the March period."

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she was an intern for WMFE’s public affairs show, Intersection. In her spare time, Talia is an avid foodie and enjoys working out.
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