USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Research Topics

Recreation: Social Aspects of Fire

Impacts of wildfire events on tourism in Florida

Wildfires can pose a serious threat to tourism, a main economic engine in virtually all states. A representative sample of 771 tourists (66% response rate) to Florida counties that had a recent wildfire and received fire suppression funds completed a mailback survey that assessed their perceptions of risk, attitudes and knowledge towards wildfire, and behavioral changes due to them.

In general, wildfires have had a minimal impact on past Florida trips and most feel there is little risk for future trips. Although 61 percent agreed that wildfires were a factor in evaluating travel destinations, 70 percent also reported that they would not let wildfires keep them from traveling to their final destination in Florida. Florida tourists varied in their knowledge about and understanding of the role of fire in Florida's landscape. Two-thirds of the tourists knew what a prescribed fire is, but only 25 percent thought the natural areas in Florida should be burned periodically. Other questions revealed that three situations would result in substantial alterations (cancel or change destinations) to their trip by about half of the tourists. These were the presence of high fire danger conditions; reported health problems from smoke and ash, and the spread of fire to a nearby vacation region.

The report further discusses the implications of these and other findings for land management decisions, tourism promotion and communications in general, e.g., providing information about prescribed burning or fire locations may mitigate the impact of wildfires on the tourism sector.

This study was supported by National Fire Plan research funds.

Publications and Products related to this subject:

Thapa, B.; Holland, S.M. 2002. Wildfires and tourist behaviors in Florida. Unpublished report. Gainesville, FL: Center for Tourism Research and Development, Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism, University of Florida. 49 p.

Thapa, B.; Holland, S.; Absher, J. 2003. Wildfires and tourist behaviors in Florida. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 71 p.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:04:31 AM