Last updated: 10:01 AM ET, Fri June 17 2016

Travel Agents: Tragedies Won't Scare Travelers Away From Orlando

Destination & Tourism | Lisa Iannucci | June 17, 2016

Travel Agents: Tragedies Won't Scare Travelers Away From Orlando

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Orlando, the top tourist destination in the United States, has been in the headlines for the last week; not for its millions of visitors or its numerous attractions, but for a horrifying mass shooting and a tragic alligator attack. When tragedies strike, some tourists have a tendency to pull back and hold off on visiting until things calm down, but is that what is happening in Orlando?  

“To date we have not seen indications of change to our visitors' plans to visit the destination, and it would be premature to speculate on future visitation,” said George Aguel, President and CEO of Visit Orlando. “What we have seen is an incredible outpouring of support from people all over the world – for Orlando as a community as well as a beloved travel destination.  For more than 40 years, generations of families from across the globe have created emotional connections and life-long memories in Orlando, which gives us confidence both now and looking toward the future.”

Justin Wolfson, an agent with Chubit Travel in New Jersey says that he would not change his plans to visit the area and doesn’t think his clients would either. “Things like this happen,” he said. “We can’t not enjoy life because we live in fear.”

Greg Antonelle, managing partner of MickeyTravels, LLC, says that nobody has said they are scared to go to Orlando, but have only shown concern of the families involved. “Most of the families we are dealing with understand it's an isolated incident, and while extremely tragic, also very rare,” he said.

READ MORE: JetBlue Flight Crew, Passengers Honors Orlando Shooting Victim’s Grandmother

He is actually seeing an uptick in Disney requests. “I think the uptick is due to people still wanting to experience the magic of Disney,” he says. “Overall, their history of being a very safe place to visit is strong.  Families that travel there often understand that. I also think there has been tremendous support online through various Disney-related fan pages and groups, and this has helped strengthen the desire to visit Disney.”

Laurie Bryant, who lives in LaGrange, New York, says that everyone wants to help Orlando now and the last thing they need is to lose tourism dollars. “If airfares drop because of this, I'd plan a trip to go myself,” she says. “It's easy to change a profile picture on Facebook, or share a meme asking for calm or offering prayers or taking a stand for/against guns. That's all well-intentioned lip service. None of that helped NYC or Paris or anywhere else terror has struck. They need long-term recovery, and that means tourism and restaurants and shows and clubs.”

Aguel says that safety remains a top priority for the destination. “The tourism community and local authorities have always worked closely on a comprehensive approach to security to ensure a safe environment for visitors,” he said. “Over time, the measures have evolved with a particular focus on prevention, using technology and effective sharing of information.”

READ MORE: Orlando Tourist Attractions On ‘High Alert’ After Massacre

Jane Jones Ballinghoff says that she won’t stop traveling to Disney either. “No, the gator attack was a freak accident,” she said. “I have been to Disney many times and never knew there were gators in those waters. Makes me wonder why they have beach chairs inviting you to sit by the water with an active gator population out there. My son lives in Orlando so this past weekend hit close to home. I text him each day I heard about the concert shooting and the nightclub shooting asking if he was ok.

Maria Perez says that she might change her plans and wait just a little bit before going down to Orlando. “I know there's the sentiment that it is giving the terrorists what they want, but I would not be able to enjoy the trip. I wanted to go to a vigil earlier this week, but I was worried that it would be a target and didn't go.”

Karen Riso lives near Orlando, but has every intention on showing up for her reservation this Friday. “The shooting was dreadful and personally very upsetting to me and all the other bad things that have been happening in Orlando the last few weeks, but I refuse to live my life in fear, so that is why I have Disney reservations for Friday till Monday and I'm going to go have fun and enjoy.”

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