The power of futbol

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Here's a switch: a major sporting event that's bad for tourism—in this case U.S. tourism. According to a story in today's Miami Herald, tour operators, hoteliers and others in the Florida hospitality industry fear that the upcoming World Cup soccer finals will put a significant dent in tourism, especially in south Florida.

While barely registering in the U.S. psyche, the month-long World Cup is cause for worldwide mania. More than 300 million people, including a total of five people in America, will watch broadcasts of the matches. And that's the problem: As long as England (or Brazil or Korea) stays in the competition, millions of Brits (or Brazilians or Koreans) will prefer to sit on their couches, drink beer and watch football instead of taking their summer vacations to the U.S. or other warm-weather spots. The effect, many believe, will be felt most acutely in south Florida, a favorite vacation spot for many Europeans and South Americans. Even Hawaii could be hurt if one or more Asian countries remain in the competition beyond the opening rounds.

On the other side of the coin, the Germany hospitality industry will benefit greatly from the Cup. More than 60 matches will be held in 12 German cities from June 9 to July 9. So far, fans from 72 countries have booked more than one million roomnights in German hotels.

The good news is that World Cup and futbol fever of this magnitude only happens every four years.

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