By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2018 Issue
According to Statista, the online statistics portal, in 2016 the travel and tourism industry had a global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of over $7.6 trillion. Its direct economic impact, including accommodations, transportation, entertainment and attractions, was approximately $2.3 trillion.
And the U.S. Travel Associations’ Economic Review of Travel in America (ERTIA), 2017 edition says that 8.6 million American jobs were supported by direct traveler expenditures in 2016 and $248 billion in wages and salaries was generated by traveler spending. In addition, domestic and international traveler expenditures topped $990 billion in the U.S. while tax revenue from travel spending for federal, state and local governments reached $158 billion in 2016.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization projected that globally a record 1.32 billion tourists traveled internationally in 2017. Of the top 12 global markets, the U.S. and Turkey were the only two to see a decline in long-haul inbound travel since 2015. This is why a group of 15 organizations recently launched the Visit U.S. Coalition. Founded by members that include U.S. Travel, AHLA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and the National Retail Federation, this advertising, information and lobbying campaign promotes the importance of international travel to the U.S.
According to their website, “The Visit U.S. Coalition represents a broad cross-section of industries that have come together to address the decline in international travelers to the U.S. and resulting opportunity cost to the U.S. economy and jobs. Our aim is to partner with President Trump and Congress to increase travel spending by international visitors and achieve the administration’s goal of a 3 percent increase in GDP.”
U.S. Travel says travel is a Top 10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and international travel is the country’s No 1 service export and No. 2 export overall. Fewer travelers means less spending. The Commerce Department said international traveler spending dropped more than 3 percent in the first 11 months of 2017. U.S. Travel said this equals the loss of $4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs.
“Travel creates jobs and economic activity across a swath of industries and sectors as people visit the U.S. and spend their time and money with American businesses. The Chamber is proud to join with our partners in the business community to make the case for a renewed focus on travel as a driver of economic growth and American prosperity,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue.”
The Visit U.S. Coalition’s policy agenda to bring travelers back includes support for Brand USA, a public-private partnership that markets the U.S. abroad; identifying new partner countries for the Visa Waiver Program; expanding access to travel visas and increasing the number of visa-processing facilities in high-demand countries; and expanding awareness and participation in trusted-traveler programs like Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri and Preclearance to more international markets.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, FL: WHERE BUSINESS AND PLEASURE MEET
Indian River County—Vero Beach, Sebastian and Fellsmere—strikes a perfect balance between business and pleasure. It offers a market that meets all your business needs, while providing you, your family and your employees an unparalleled quality of life: that small town ambiance with a cosmopolitan flair. It is a place where your work and lifestyle are compatible in a stimulating and productive environment.
Located an hour north of West Palm Beach and 90 miles southeast of Orlando, Indian River County is within three hours of 18 million consumers, or 90 percent of Florida’s population, with easy access to markets and far from urban sprawl, traffic and congestion. The area is rich in history and natural resources, including wildlife reserves and scenic lakes, with the benefits of a year-round moderate climate for which the Sunshine State is famous.
Surrounded by miles of pristine beaches, ranches and citrus groves, Indian River County’s superb quality of life has attracted innovative businesses and talented professionals from around the country. Offshore, the waters of the Gulf Stream ensure year-round mild temperatures, warm in winter and breezy in summer so you can enjoy outdoor activities throughout the year. Twenty-three miles of golden beaches, azure waters of the Indian and Sebastian Rivers and lush farm and woodlands blend to characterize this beautiful area “where the tropics begin.”
Vero Beach, the county seat, has long been a popular resort area, attracting thousands to the array of recreational and entertainment pursuits it offers. Sebastian, in the northern part of the county, is home to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, a National Historic Landmark and the first Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Sebastian also offers one of the most spectacular skydiving venues in the world, and is ideal for surfing with several major competitions held annually.
Indian River County’s allure as a light industrial site is best demonstrated by the fact that many companies have chosen this location because of the positive vacation experience of their C-level executives. Companies are attracted to the county because of its relatively low land and labor costs, the absence of a state income tax and competitive property tax rates—one of the lowest in Florida. Tax abatements and the Local Jobs Grant program encourage eligible new and existing firms to add new jobs for local residents.
Advanced industries from aviation manufacturing and emerging technology to specialty healthcare all benefit from a low cost of doing business; a large, well-trained and available workforce; and some of the lowest taxes in the nation. With convenient access to highways, rail and ports, along with large tracts of buildable land, many transportation and distribution companies have chosen to locate in the county.
Indian River County also has two general aviation airports, Vero Beach and Sebastian, and is located minutes from Melbourne International Airport. Vero Beach Regional Airport now offers non-stop flights on Elite Airways to Newark, NJ, White Plains, NY and Portland, ME.
Healthcare and specialized medical care also are key factors in many location decisions, and Indian River County’s medical facilities provide the latest in advanced healthcare technologies. Indian River Medical Center (IRMC) has partnered with Duke Health to provide heart and cancer care, plus many other services that are usually only found in academic medical centers. The Cleveland Clinic is in negotiations to take over the hospital later this year. Sebastian River Medical Center offers surgical services using innovative robotic tools for surgery.
Indian River County offers many cultural and entertainment venues comparable to communities much larger in size. Art galleries and studios, including monthly Art Walks, professional and community theatres, plus a children’s theatre, the highly regarded 33-piece Atlantic Classical Orchestra and the state’s only teaching museum have all put Indian River County on Florida’s cultural map.
An available and trainable workforce of approximately 638,000 within an hour’s drive time makes Indian River County a highly desirable location. Indian River State College is nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum and close working relationship with the business community, filling the training needs of industry, and preparing the next generation of workers. The Indian River School District continues to expand and enhance its Career and Technical Training curriculum through partnerships with local businesses.
A paradise for surfing, fishing, golfing, boating, shopping, dining, bird-watching, kayaking and long walks on the beach, Indian River County, FL has it all—a location central to the success of your business while enjoying a relaxed lifestyle. For more information, visit www.indianrivered.com, or call the Indian River Chamber of Commerce at (772) 567-3491.
CAPE CORAL…WILD ABOUT NATURE
Whether you’re pedaling or paddling or trolling or strolling, follow your bliss in a paradise wrapped with unparalleled natural amenities.
Since it was founded, Cape Coral, Florida, has been known as a “waterfront wonderland.” If you love paddling, fishing, boating, strolling or taking nature photos, you’ve come to the right place. The Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River and Pine Island Sound wrap the Cape, and the city is crisscrossed by 400 miles of canals.
Whether you come for a weekend or for a few months, you won’t be far from white-sand beaches, refreshing Gulf breezes, marinas, nature parks, bike paths and other amenities that trick full-time residents into believing they’re on vacation every day.
Walk on the Wild Side.
Cape Coral is home to abundant wildlife, in the air, sea and on land. More than 300 species of birds visit or live along Lee County’s coastline, making it a top bird-watching destination in the United States. Some of Southwest Florida’s most interesting creatures can be easily viewed in many of its parks.
Cape Coral has the largest Florida burrowing owl population with 2,500 documented burrows. It is not uncommon to see these yellow-eyed, pint-sized residents standing outside of their underground dwellings year-round. They are protected under state and federal law and were made famous in Carl Hiasson’s “Hoot.”
Burrowing owls are joined by a wide range of other avian neighbors: ibis and egrets, hawks, American bald eagles, sandhill cranes, American kestrels, terns, sandpipers, woodpeckers and many, many more.
In its waterways, expect to see dolphins and manatees, along with a rich variety of fish. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is common in the area, and many dolphins live here full-time. These curious creatures can be seen from the shore, playing in the wake of boats or occasionally cruising the Cape’s canals. Manatees are gentle, air-breathing mammals, often referred to as “sea cows.” They can grow up to 13 feet and 3,000 pounds but are docile vegetarians. Because they are susceptible to cold, manatees—protected under state and federal law—congregate in warm water during cold snaps.
If you’re lucky, you may see a gopher tortoise, which lives underground in extensive networks of burrows. Gophers are a protected species with high-domed shells—and unlike their marine cousins, they aren’t swimmers. And while many residents in Cape Coral go for years without seeing an alligator, they thrive in Southwest Florida. Also a protected species, alligators prefer fresh and brackish water—and they enjoy golf courses, where sun-warmed greens and ponds are inviting habitat.
Do you like bocce, horseshoes, bicycling, tennis, swimming or flying remote-control airplanes? Wherever your passions leads, you are sure to Find it in Cape Coral. The award-winning Parks and Recreation Department manages nearly 40 facilities for city residents and visitors to enjoy. Select highlights include:
- Rotary Park Environmental Center: This 97-acre preserve showcases salt marsh and uplands ecosystems, as well as a native plant garden and butterfly house. The preserve has a wide variety of attractions: a large playground, nature trails, an observation tower, bike path and dog park. It is home to the annual Burrowing Owl Festival each February.
- Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve & Kayak Shack: Stroll the walking trail and boardwalk to the Caloosahatchee River at this 365-acre wetland preserve. Learn more about the region’s ecosystem and spend some time at the Veterans Memorial, which pays tribute to those who’ve served in the U.S. armed services. From November through May, weekend kayak rentals are available at the Kayak Shack.
- Bernice Braden Park: This linear park at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge offers spectacular views of the Caloosahatchee River and is a great place to enjoy the serenity of the environment, go fishing or picnic.
- Jaycee Park: This riverfront park hosts numerous festivals and events. With a walking trail, gazebo, picnic areas, fitness stations and playground, it’s a popular place to have a birthday party or simply relax.
- Yacht Club Community Park: One of the city’s original landmarks, this city centerpiece includes a beach, swimming pool, marina, boat ramp, fishing pier, picnic area and playground.
- Sirenia Vista: An ideal location to spot manatees in the winter months, this waterfront park also is a great place to fish or launch a kayak to paddle the Great Calusa Blueway.
Regional Conservation Destinations.
Conservation 20/20 is a program that has purchased and protected conservation land within Lee County since 1996. Cape Coral has two 20/20 properties:
- Yucca Pens Preserve: There are no marked trails for this 231 acres of mesic flatwoods, hammock and wet flatwoods, but public access is permitted from an entrance gate in the 3900 block of Burnt Store Road North.
- Yellow Fever Creek Preserve: Mostly pine flatwoods and totaling nearly 340 acres, this preserve includes portions of the headwaters of Yellow Fever Creek, a narrow channel that accumulates shallow water during the wet season. There is a 2.5-mile marked trail system.
- Cycling enthusiasts, take note: Cape Coral has been named a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and earned the Bicycle Friendly Community of the Year Award from the Florida Bicycle Association. Enjoy 90 miles of interconnected routes, distinctly marked with informational maps and kiosks, bordering nature preserves, scenic canals, marinas, golf courses and the Caloosahatchee River. A 49-mile circular route runs the city’s perimeter.
While there is abundant shoreline in Cape Coral, it is a short driving distance to several top-rated beaches. Discover how you can follow your bliss in this “waterfront wonderland” on your next vacation.