The rape of a German tourist during one of two holdups in Orlando demonstrated how easily crime can threaten Central Florida’s economy, says the Orlando Sentinel. news of the attacks immediately spread across the Internet and local news channels. “It’s everybody’s breadbasket, and we know every story involving a tourist is going to hit the [news] wire,” said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Mark Strobridge. “We’re always a crime or two away from having a catastrophic economic impact.”
The rape occurred after a German couple at a Howard Johnson’s motel left their door propped open while watching television and two robbers with a sawed-off shotgun entered. Abe Pizam, dean of the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, said the damage from a single violent act can be significant. The 1993 killings of 10 foreign tourists devastated Florida’s then-$31 billion tourism industry. Within a year, vacationers from overseas dropped 12 percent. The state responded by posting armed security guards at highway rest stops and changing license plates to prevent easy identification of tourists.