Florida In World War Ii: Tourists And Citrus

Floridians was found in the Gallup polls of the time to

be one of the most interventionist of states. During the

preceding years there had been a tremendous expansion of

Florida’s military facilities. Before the war was over

Florida would host more than forty important military

installations. During World War II, the Florida tourist

industry demonstrated its adaptability.

Dec. 7, 1941 found the Florida tourist industry

preparing for its biggest year. But with the war came

cancellations to resorts all over the state. This would be

a problem since Florida drew sixty per cent of its peacetime

income from tourism. Floridians immediately began to attack

their problem.

Florida’s businesses insisted that rest an relaxation

was necessary for war workers and began to market themselves

accordingly. In this they had not only the support of

railroads like the Atlantic Coast Line, which advertised

that “Civilians need furloughs too,” but also many federal

officials. Meanwhile Florida hotelmen and the Florida Hotel

Commission were busy negotiating with the United States

government. The result was that eventually over 500 of the

large resort hotels were leased to the military for use as

barracks, hospitals, or convalescent homes. Military

families also made their way south to fill up the vacant


Some obstacles did exist to be overcome. Then Governor

Holland was able to get two more trains put on Florida runs.

The State Chamber of Commerce attacked the “impossible to

get a room” rumor by publicizing lists of rooms available in

resort areas. Only forty per cent of hotel space had been

taken over by the military. However, the War Mobilization

Director ordered that lucrative horse racing be suspended as

of Jan. third.

During the summer of 1943 the entire situation changed.

As troops moved overseas, and more permanent installations

were completed, the Air Force took advantage of the

thirty-day cancellation clause in their hotel leases to move

out of 206 of 434 hotels they had occupied. But by this

time the race tracks were open again and Florida hotels

again were booked to capacity with tourists from the north.

Transportation back north was another matter entirely.

Rail facilities were totally inadequate and many auto

drivers had difficulty getting gas to take them back home.

But these matters were corrected by Winter 1943-44. And

after the war the tourist industry was set for its greatest

year in history.

Florida’s citrus industry also went to war. Florida’s

production went on to surpass that of California’s.

Floridians increased the production of jams and marmalades,

expanded the canned fruit industry, and began the large

scale processing of concentrated juice. This was key in

that concentrate was subsidized by the government and

shipped in less space than did whole fruit. Practically the

entire British supply of vitamin C came from Florida


Word Count: 465

Related Essays on Tourism