>> Florida's seeing its first signs that the Zika virus could be hurting the state's robust tourism industry. Travelers booking fewer hotel rooms in downtown Miami in the weeks since the Zika virus started spreading there, according to data reviewed by Reuters correspondent Jeffrey Dastin.>> When you look deeper at the numbers, you see actually that the growth rate for Miami Beach has slowed, compared to the beginning first seven months of this year.
And then, in fact, for downtown Miami, and for Wynwood and other northern neighborhoods where cases of the Zika virus were discovered, we in fact see a decline year over year. And that's striking because for years this part of Miami has had hotels selling more and more rooms than the month prior or the year prior.
>> Tourism industry experts do say the drop in hotel bookings could be due to other factors such as fluctuations in the conferences Miami hosts from one year to the next.>> The point is that it's not as explicitly, a perfectly clear a picture as drop, therefore Zika virus.
But the correlation seems to be strong enough that experts are concerned what will happen to tourism and the economy in Miami in the long run.>> Airlines have also lowered prices to stimulate demand. Leisure fares are 16% lower to and from Miami, and 18% lower for nearby Fort Lauderdale from a year ago.
And as Dastin points out, it's not just hotels and airlines that are taking a hit.>> The tourism industry amounts for more than $24 billion of economic activity from Miami. And when you think about fewer visitors, that doesn't just mean loss of hotel revenue. It means fewer people going to restaurants, fewer weddings may be happening in Miami, fewer destination events.
And that $24 billion figure can slowly and slowly be chipped away.>> This is Rick Scott's worst nightmare. This week the governor acknowledged the importance of tourism to Florida's economy on a visit to Miami. Reporters have charged Scott with downplaying the threat of Zika to minimize the effect on tourism.
] cases in his city in a more timely manner?>> Sure.