Q&A – Is Spring Break Worth It for South Florida?


Today’s entry: Brian, while watching the 20th story depicting the delinquency occurring on Ocean Dr. over the weekend. I got to wondering. Is spring break “worth it” for South Florida’s beaches? I’ve got to think many people stay away from heavily trafficked areas during Spring Break that’d otherwise more constructively patronize businesses.

Bottom Line: I hear ya. Not exactly my idea of good times either, even at that age. You raise an interesting point. There doubtless are vacation goers, and even locals, who would visit and patronize many businesses if not for the spring breakers. That said, there’s no doubt that despite the perceived debauchery and ordinance breakers, Spring Break is “worth it” if we’re talking specifically about economic outcomes. If we consider crime, it does become a slightly different conversation.

Before diving into the impact for beach communities, Florida’s top spring break destination is actually Orlando - for the theme parks as opposed to a beach destination - it just clearly doesn’t get the attention, or perhaps the level of unlawful activity of many of our beaches. Now to break down the value proposition... The traditional Spring Break “season” is March 1st through April 12th. While Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach are among the more popular destinations, Panama City Beach has long been the most trafficked due to its ease of access. I’ll come back around to that thought in a minute but first the economic piece.

In what’s been coined the “Spring Break Effect”, researchers have found 40% of college students travel to Spring Break destinations with Florida being the top state. Approximately 1.2 billion, in today’s dollars, is spent by Spring Break visitors annually in Florida (in non-pandemic years). That’s a meaningful stash of cash inside of six weeks. But still, is it worth it? There is a cost that goes along with it, mostly notably on the law enforcement side. Even if you leave the 1,000+ arrests on Miami Beach this weekend out of the conversation, a normal spring break leads to a huge spike in crime.

Obviously, the benefits of Spring Break bucks even during a normal year, aren’t without some serious strings attached. And to your point there are doubtless people who’d otherwise and visit and/or patronize local businesses without the drama but avoid Spring Break hot spots. We just don’t have any way to quantify it, but a quick search reveals numerous stories and recommendations which exist for those looking to avoid spring break mayhem. Incidentally, multiple “avoid” lists included Fort Lauderdale Beach, Miami Beach and Daytona Beach.

The bottom line is that there isn’t a conclusive case that even on economics alone it’s a net benefit to Florida’s most popular destinations aside from Orlando. Given the beautiful weather South Florida’s beaches experience during the six weeks encompassing Spring Break, it’s likely many more typical travelers would visit during these times if not for the Spring Break crowds and stigma. Add in the negative PR associated with the debauchery and it may even prove to be a net detriment.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Photo by: Getty Images


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