The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 43 - July 16, 2008

BUSINESS


Eco-tourism operators meet, strategize

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Karen Fraley, left, of Around the
Bend Nature Tours, talks with Captain Michael Haley at an Eco-Tourism
Workshop in Cortez she organized last week through the Bradenton
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

CORTEZ – Hoteliers, fishing captains, restaurant owners and heritage attractions operators are working together to develop travel marketing packages designed to attract eco-tourists to Manatee County.

"The idea is to identify potential partners to provide packages for meals, lodging and nature and heritage-related activities," said Karen Fraley, Eco-Tourism representative for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, who organized last week’s workshop at the Bayside Banquet Hall in Cortez.

Business cards, brochures and brainstorming ideas were traded as tourism operators got to know each other at the first-time event.

Eco-tourism is increasingly popular with visitors to the area, according to Robyn Price of the Bradenton Holiday Inn, which was recently certified as a green lodging establishment based on several criteria, including cleaning products used by the housekeeping service.

"We’ve already had our first reservation resulting from going green," she said.

Several creative ideas were floated, including inviting corporations that are planning team-building exercises to cruise on Aquarian Quest’s "floating classroom," which normally takes school-age students on educational sailing adventures.

The Parrot Inn on Cortez Road has kitchenettes where visitors who come to fish can enjoy cooking their catches, representative Kim Jenkins said. Since many other accommodations don’t have cooking facilities, the hotel is a natural to pair in packages with fishing charter services.

Kimberly Turner, of Arbor Terrace RV Resort, discussed designating one day a month for guests to board a bus and visit the Manatee County Agricultural Museum and the Palmetto Historical Park with respective representatives Diane Ingram and Mandy Polson.

Many tourism operators were interested to learn that visitors don’t have to travel to the Everglades for a Florida airboat ride; Myakka Safari and Wildlife Tours is hours closer to Manatee County.

Travel packages resulting from the workshop discussions will be featured on the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site, www.FloridasGulfIslands.com, and in other marketing promotions, Fraley said. The next workshop is tentatively planned for October.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Stock market volatility surprising many

We are hearing a common theme from investors recently and there is no doubt that recent stock market volatility has many surprised and troubled. But is the current condition abnormal, or was what we experienced in the 2003 to 2006 time period just abnormally "quiet" making the recent market ups and downs seem extreme?

A recent report from Crestmont Research (www.crestmont.com) a money management and market research firm located in Oregon, reveals that the answer is probably a bit of both. The very low volatility environment that existed from 2003 to 2006 was among the lowest measured in the last 50 years, and in duration was one of the longer low volatility periods ever recorded. Quite abruptly, things changed in the last half of 2007, getting the attention of investors who tend to have an aversion to wild swings in the market.

However, we can’t really say that we are setting volatility records just yet, despite the rude awakening we have received. One way to assess this issue is to examine the number of days each month where the stock market closed up or down more than 1 percent from the previous day’s close. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 12,000, the index would have to go up or down more than 120 points to be a 1 percent change.

The last six months have averaged about eight trading days (the average month has 21 trading days) with greater than a 1 percent rise or drop. This is not unprecedented, and higher-six month average figures were recorded in 1974 (11), 1987 (10), 2000 (10), and 2002 (12).

So, while we are well above the long-term average of four 1 percent change days which has existed since 1951 (source: Crestmont Research Report: Volatility in Perspective - June 30th, 2008), we are not in uncharted territory.

Another way to measure volatility is to track the average daily range of the market from the high point of the days trading to the low to see how wide the peaks and valleys of trading were from top to bottom in percentage terms. The Crestmont report referenced data for this study back to 1962 and showed the three-month average of daily ranges to be 1.4 percent for the typical trading day.

The highest the three-month average of daily trading ranges rose to during the recent eight month market correction was about 2.1 percent. I find this interesting because there have been quite a few times when the average daily trading range went above 2.5 percent (1970, 1973, 1980, 1998 and 2002). In 1974 and 1987 the average daily range measurement described here was over 3 percent!

Do you feel better yet? I suspect not. What we should feel better about is the following observation from the report. In general, measures of market volatility, wild gyrations or whatever term you prefer to use tends to be higher during declining markets, and this time is no exception to that rule. Rising markets tend to exhibit lower volatility. Being the eternal optimist I am, I would also like to point out that in most cases where the volatility measures described above reached the levels where we are today, it proved to be a good buying opportunity for the patient investor. These figures presented above are in no way an exact timing tool to try to decide when the right time to buy or sell is at hand. Rather, when looking out over the next few years of your investment plan, they can help instill the patience required for long-term success.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.


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