This New Florida Law Might Destroy the State's Tourism Industry
Controversial Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been making media headlines for his fight against COVID restrictions. However, the newest law produced by the state's Republican party is already causing problems among some of DeSantis' key supporters.
DeSantis Signs New Law Banning Vaccine Passports
As people start to figure out what the world will look like after COVID-19, one of the most hotly debated concepts has been the idea of vaccine passports. Some people argue private businesses should be able to decide who they serve and avoid providing service to those with or without the coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, others dislike the idea of having to share healthcare information in order to purchase certain goods or services.
A recent law proposed by GOP politicians and signed into law by DeSantis will forbid businesses from asking about customers' vaccination choices. This law has been met with a lot of concern. Not only could it set a bad precedent by letting the government dictate what private businesses do, but it could also have a disastrous effect on Florida's tourist industry.
Cruise Industry Speaks Out Against DeSantis' Ban
One of the first industries to discuss problems with the ban was the cruise ship industry. After a year where they were devastated by a lack of customers, cruise ships are finally starting to operate again. In accordance with CDC guidelines, many ships plan on only allowing fully vaccinated passengers aboard.
However, the new law from Florida could cause problems with this business plan. Florida ports like Tampa and Miami are the main stops for cruise ships in the continental US. If the ships have to stay out of Florida, the state could lose millions of dollars in tourism money. Cruise ship CEO Frank Del Rio says, "Everyone wants to operate out of Florida. It's a very lucrative market. But it is an issue. Can't ignore it. And we hope that everyone is pushing in the same direction, which is we want to resume cruising in a safe manner."
Another cruise ship executive wondered, "Why is a pro-business governor standing in the way of one of the most important industries in the state from restarting?" Some cruise ships state they may just pay the fines associated with breaking the law, while other companies say they may choose to only operate out of Caribbean ports until the COVID pandemic is fully under control.
What the Ban Could Mean for Florida's Tourism Industry
Right now, the ban has resulted in a tangle of legal disagreements. Florida launched a lawsuit against the CDC, arguing against the department's order to only let cruise ships with vaccinated guests sail. Unfortunately, this lawsuit has failed in mediation, so it may still take several more hearings for the issue to be resolved.
Florida's attempt to get the CDC to change its guidelines is harmed by the fact that most cruise ships don't support the lawsuit. Most cruise companies have said they would prefer to have the right to only offer service to vaccinated passengers. They believe that requiring vaccine checks could be the only way to restore public faith in the industry. Following several major news stories about passengers with COVID trapped on cruise ships, many tourists are wary of getting on a cruise ship that won't be checking vaccines.
As of June, the standoff between the CDC, DeSantis, and Florida-based cruise companies continues. If things are not resolved in time for the summer tourist rush, the state could end up losing out on huge amounts of funds. Large cruise corporations are not the only industries that may be damaged by a lack of cruises in Florida. Many beachside cities rely on cruise boats to bring in a fresh group of tourists each week. Without these visits, restaurants, bars, shops, and other retail businesses may suffer, and more people may be out of work.
Ultimately, it may be hard to reach a satisfactory resolution to the conflict surrounding the new law. Both sides have brought up valid concerns, but their opposing views make it hard to seek a compromise. Hopefully, the lawsuits will proceed at a prompt pace, so Florida can prepare for the upcoming tourist season.
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