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Where The Girls Aren’t: Students Try Other Vacation Spots Besides Lauderdale

March 1, 1987

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Frolicking college students, who for decades made this city synonymous with spring break, this year seem to be opting for other, often less notorious vacation spots.

″The bottom line is that both today’s college student and today’s Fort Lauderdale have changed,″ said June Switkin, Broward Tourist Development Council executive director. ″They are no longer the perfect match they were in the ’50s, ‘60s and ’70s.″

College students in search of sun and sand say they’ve switched to Daytona Beach, or more exotic spots such as Barbados, Bermuda, the Bahamas or Mexico.

County officials have not promoted spring break in Fort Lauderdale in recent years and have been concerned about the negative publicity generated by widespread drinking and wild behavior that led to several fatal accidents.

Police crackdowns have turned off some students, who say they don’t feel wanted in Fort Lauderdale. Police made 2,506 arrests during last year’s spring break.

The county estimates that spring break revenues totaled $120 million to $140 million last year, but this year officials are focusing on the convention trade and tourists older than college students.

Worried owners of the small motels that usually are packed with students are reporting this year’s advance bookings are down, by as much as 75 percent. Officials expect about 250,000 students to arrive for the spring break period, 50,000 fewer than last year.

Apparently, young women especially are staying away.

″It’s like 70-30 (males to females) here,″ said Gary Schermerhorn, 23.

″How many fathers want to finance a trip for their daughters down to a place known for lewd and lascivious behavior?″ said Mary Fanizzi, publicity director for the Penrod’s on the Beach nightclub.

Boston University senior Susan Renard, who called the resort ″outdated,″ organized a one-week trip for 55 members of her sorority to Acapulco, Mexico.

Daytona Beach expects a record 375,000 spring break students this year. Tourism officials pursued them with the promise that ″Spring Break Sizzles at Daytona Beach.″

Another new favorite is South Padre Island, Texas, where officials expect about 125,000 students for spring break.

″Fort Lauderdale has been popular for a long time, but it’s not the automatic spot to go anymore,″ said Martin Axelrod, president of Northwestern University’s Associated Student Government. The Illinois school has 115 students heading to South Padre Island.

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