FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Planes are still landing and taking off from South Florida airports, but in many cases they are nowhere near full.

“When I sat down, I was like, ‘Where’s all the people, there’s nobody coming on the plane.’ So I started counting and there were like 10 people,” said passenger Greg Gauntlette.

And there are fewer flights coming and going.

There are a lot of cancellations on the boards as airlines cut back service due to travel restrictions banning much foreign travel and passenger concerns of getting the coronavirus.

“There’s a filter inside, which is an N9-5 filter. This is outer protection. And then of course, because it’s spread through aerosol, it can go through the eyes, so I have the goggles, and the gloves,” said passenger Vincent Lyn.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, 304 flights have been canceled this month. At Miami International Airport, 176 flights were canceled Wednesday alone – and those numbers are likely to increase.

“There’s a different feel here for sure. We’re not quite as busy as we were two weeks ago, the planes are not flying as full as they were two weeks ago,” said FLL spokesperson Greg Meyer.

Stacy Ritter is president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. With tourism as the number one industry, she’s expecting to see a big hit in our economy.

“It’s devastating. It’s going to be brutal.  It is brutal,” said Ritter.

She told CBS4’s Ted Scouten that tourists spend between $800 and $1,100 a day per person while visiting.  Much of that is evaporating.

“There’s no question that there is going to be significant hurt here,” Ritter said. “We just don’t know how long it’s going to take to get out.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez expects to see many more cancellations in the days go come, meaning less revenue for airport improvements and a hit to the Miami-Dade economy.

“I expect that we’re not even seeing the tip of the iceberg here,” he said. “Miami International Airport is the number one economic generator of Miami-Dade County. We are directly or indirectly tied to about 300,000 jobs here in South Florida.”

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At Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, two cruise ships returned Wednesday and more than 2,000 passengers disembarked.

All arriving ships are being cleared by the CDC, Florida Department of Health, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Broward County Port Administration and BSO before any passenger can disembark. Additionally, shore leave has been cancelled for crews.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said Wednesday, “Safeguarding the port and all of Broward County as the passengers make their way to area hotels, airports and homes is one of our top priorities.”

Ted Scouten

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