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
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
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