This has been a good week. Florida Attractions Association forums were held this week all over the state. I attended one here in St. Augustine and one in Orlando.
It is good to get together with others in the tourism industry and hear what is going on in their world, from small sites like ours to big ones like Disney, Universal, or SeaWorld. I also got to hear from colleagues who refer to themselves as “old Florida attractions” like Weeki Wachee Springs, Gatorland, and Cypress Gardens, among others. These classic spots date back to the tourism boom that started in the post WWII 1940’s and give Florida its long vested history in family tourism.
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Photo courtesy of the St. Augustine Historical Society
As early attractions go however, I would like to point out that back in the 1880’s, Henry Flagler built a couple of big hotels in St. Augustine, and rich Victorians, primarily from the northeast, started vacationing here to escape the frozen north. One thing that they commonly did was come over to the island for a picnic lunch, stroll the beach and look at the lighthouse, maybe take a picture. There were two outhouses at the station, one for the Head Keeper and one for the Assistant Keeper. It was the Assistant Keeper who had to provide his outhouse for the visitors; the Head Keeper got to keep his private. Rank has its privileges. So the lighthouse was an attraction long before it was a museum, and it was one of the first in the state. It is good to be part of something that has been drawing people to Florida from the beginning, whether from the sea or from the interstate. It is also great to be part of the Florida Attractions Association family; old Florida or new, and we are honored to be counted among them. We are all about carrying on traditions.
P.S. We’ve made improvements in the bathrooms.