Business Insider

What tourists and tourism businesses should know about state laws

A common Florida tourism-industry mantra is that the state is a tourist paradise. Theme parks, snowless winters and waves are appealing. But Florida has disadvantages: heat, humidity, hurricanes and no Mount Florida, other than the one in Scotland. (Google that.)

Idaho competes for tourism with beautiful mountains, whitewater rafting, skiing, ziplining, Craters of the Moon, Shoshone Falls, Boise, Boise, Boise and deep-water lakes. Its disadvantages are — hmmm, can’t think of any.

Both states are not only different in what they offer tourists but also in how their laws affect tourists, the tourism industry and human resources in general.

For example, if you go on a bike tour in these states, you need to follow different laws. In Idaho, when bicyclists approach a stop sign, they must slow down, and, if needed for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing or stopping, they should yield right of way to vehicles. These so-called rolling stops are illegal in Florida. Bicyclists must stop at a stop sign no matter what (though that requirement is not enforced much).

I am not saying which law is best, but I know that bicycling tourists need to know the difference, the bicycle-tour industry must notify its customers, and companies that encourage bicycling to work should inform their employees.

Florida has a stand-your-ground law that permits a citizen to shoot or kill you for looking suspicious. Here again, I am not interested in making legal commentary. But tourists, the tourism industry and human resources professionals must be aware of the implications. HR policies must deal with guns in the workplace, civil-rights issues, and codes of ethics associated with the law.

Civil-rights laws also differ. In Florida, employers with 15 or more employees must not discriminate based on the usual categories such as race, gender, and religion, but also on sickle-cell traits. Idaho law covers employers with five or more employees and discusses just the usual categories.

Knowledge of state laws is essential to reduce liability in the tourism industry and HR in general. Policies must adapt so that the unusual aspects of each state can be linked with a company’s strategic plan.

Gundars Kaupins is a professor of management in the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University.