Disney layoffs bad news for tourism industry


ORLANDO, Fla. — Disney announced a series of layoffs this week, and one economist said it may be just the beginning of more bad news for the tourism industry.

While this recession is not quite as severe as the drop in travel after Sept. 11, it’s lasting a lot longer and that means the negative impact on the tourism industry will likely get worse, an economist told WESH 2 News.

Disney plans an undisclosed number of layoffs after profits in its parks fell 24 percent in the first quarter.

Union workers, including characters, custodians and many people on the front lines have been told their jobs are safe, but University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said he wouldn’t be surprised to learn of more layoffs in the year ahead.

“Recession begins and then at a later date, that’s when the layoffs start so we’re just getting into that cycle when we’ll see more layoffs,” Snaith said.

Tourism accounts for almost 200,000 jobs in the metro Orlando area and 62,000 of them are at Disney alone.

Snaith said a recession usually hits the tourism industry last, which means it will also take longer for tourism to recover.

“Until people become confident that their jobs are not threatened or if they’ve lost their job, until they find a news job, that type of spending is likely to remain suppressed,” Snaith said.

A union leader said the Disney Casting Center continues to hire and there’s been no word of a hiring freeze. That leads him to believe the layoffs are truly a consolidation and he’s hopeful the rank and file workers will keep their jobs.