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First Coast Tourism Industry Seeing a Slight Affect from the Smoke

10:35 PM, Jun 21, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In Jacksonville today, the Sunshine State seemed more like the Smoky State.

Smoke from wildfires in Georgia and north Florida blanketed skies across Duval County and even along the beach.

Tourism officials said the smoke from wildfires this season has impacted tourism.

Staff asked hoteliers in northeast Florida about the smoke, said Visit Jacksonville spokesperson Lyndsay Rossman.

Some have reported cancellations due to the smoke, and she said more of the cancellations were in leisure hotels along the beach, instead of hotels which cater to business men and women.

Rossman said visitor centers have received phone calls from potential tourists with questions about the smoke. She said she encourages visitors to remember there are many indoor activities in Jacksonville such as shopping, going to museums, and visiting art galleries.

Rossman added that it's hard to determine when it's going to be smoky. "Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and then you have days like today." 

Workers at visitor centers will inform visitors that the smoke is often worse in the morning and will dissipate in the afternoon, she said.

The Air Quality Index today got worse as the day progressed. At 11 a.m., the AQI level was 165, which means it was "unhealthy" and that people with lung and heart disease should avoid heavy exertion outside. 

By the afternoon, the air quality index value was in the 200s, considered "very unhealthy." At that level, it's recommended people with heart and lung disease, children, and the elderly should not do any physical activity outside and that everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion outside.

First Coast News

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