Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another tourism record, welcoming 95.8 million visitors from January through September, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This is the highest number of visitors in any nine months in Florida’s history and represents a 6.7 percent increase over the 89.8 million visitors during the same period in 2017. This includes 85 million domestic visitors, 8 million overseas visitors and 2.8 million Canadian visitors.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida’s tourism industry is continuing to set records to help our state’s economic growth. Since December 2010, Florida has welcomed a record number of travelers for 27 quarters and had seven consecutive years of record visitation and visitor spending. Today’s announcement shows that 2018 is shaping up to be the most robust year for travel to Florida ever. I will never stop working to make Florida the number one global destination for visitors and job creation.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 30.7 million visitors traveled to Florida in the third quarter of 2018 (July-September), an increase of 10.1 percent over the same period last year. This third quarter number represents 27.5 million domestic visitors, 2.7 million overseas visitors and 490,000 Canadian visitors to the Sunshine State. Total enplanements at Florida’s 18 major airports in the third quarter increased 10.2 percent over the same period last year, with 21.9 million passengers. The number of visitors through Florida’s five Official Welcome Centers and Florida’s average daily room rate (ADR) also grew, increasing by 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Ken Lawson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said, “When I became VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO last year, I hit the ground running to ensure we were absolutely transparent, accountable and efficient in everything we did to promote our great state. I want to thank Governor Rick Scott for his leadership these past eight years. I greatly appreciate the opportunity I have been given to lead this vital organization. Today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work and determination of Governor Scott, the Florida Legislature, the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, VISIT FLORIDA staff and our entire industry. Because of their commitment to tourism, Florida’s economy is booming. As we look to the future, I will continue to ensure that every dollar spent by VISIT FLORIDA has a high return on investment for our state, generating millions in revenue, creating jobs and bolstering our economy.”
As the Sunshine State’s number one industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 118.8 million visitors in 2017. Based on the latest economic impact study, Florida visitors spent $112 billion and supported more than 1.4 million Florida jobs. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, $2.15 in tax revenue is generated.
VISIT FLORIDA unites the state’s tourism industry to inspire travel to and within the Sunshine State. Through successful marketing campaigns, the Florida tourism industry reaches targeted audiences in domestic and international markets such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany and China. VISIT FLORIDA’s innovative marketing tactics strengthen the state’s share of the global travel market and maximize the economic impact of travel and tourism to Florida.
To view additional Florida visitor data, go the research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.
*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.
Last Friday, VISIT FLORIDA joined the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO) to prepare more than a thousand hygiene care packages for Hurricane Michael victims in Florida’s central Panhandle. More than 40 volunteers from tourism organizations throughout the state assembled items into hygiene kits at the Grand Marlin Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Ken Lawson, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO, said, “While Hurricane Michael, made landfall more than a month ago, many of our neighbors are still feeling the devastating effects of the storm. VISIT FLORIDA remains dedicated to ensuring everyone in our industry has the resources needed to recover and rebuild. Today, we are honored to have worked alongside partners from across the state to help members of our tourism family come back stronger than ever.”
Organized in conjunction with FADMO and Visit Pensacola, 1,500 hygiene kits were assembled during a two-hour outreach event held during this year’s FADMO Annual Meeting. The kits will be sent to local organizations in Gulf and Bay counties where they will be distributed to the communities severely impacted by the hurricane.
Steve Hayes, FADMO Chairman and Visit Pensacola President, said, “Following Hurricane Michael, we knew we had to do something to help our friends to the east. Destinations around the state are a community, and our annual FADMO meeting in Pensacola offered the perfect opportunity for the industry to come together and help those who were impacted.”
The items for the hygiene kits were provided by Clean the World Foundation, a social enterprise that distributes recycled soap and hygiene products from more than 5,000 hotel and resort partners. The organization is working to gather and ship over 100,000 relief kits following Hurricane Michael.
Today’s announcement complements recovery assistance efforts already underway by VISIT FLORIDA such as coordinating hurricane shelter comfort and morale efforts with the State Emergency Operations Center, and a corporate donation drive that resulted in crucial items for those in impacted areas, including VISIT FLORIDA employees of the US-231 Official Florida Welcome Center.
Volunteers from tourism organizations throughout the state assembled items into hygiene kits for Hurricane Michael victims at the Grand Marlin Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Today, I am proud to announce the appointment of Merry Coffman, Matthew Johnson and Nerissa Okiye to the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. Coffman, Johnson and Okiye were confirmed as members of the VISIT FLORIDA board during the recent Enterprise Florida Board of Directors meeting held in Miami on September 12. The new members, who have already been approved by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, fill vacated seats.
I’m very excited to have these three distinguished leaders join our Board of Directors and I look forward to their contributions. Their diverse experience and perspectives will be valuable as we work to strengthen Florida’s share of the global travel market.
Merry Coffman is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Pure Florida, a small business with two locations in Naples and Fort Myers. She oversees the daily operations at the Fort Myers location and manages the business’s public relations, marketing and advertising efforts. She fills a regional seat and was appointed for a term beginning September 12, 2018 and ending June 30, 2022.
Matthew Johnson is the Executive Director at IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers where he leads the multi-disciplinary museum and educational center. He fills the dedicated attractions seat and was appointed for a term beginning Sept. 12, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019.
Nerissa Okiye is the Tourism and Marketing Manager of the Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing where she is responsible for the development and implementation of Martin County’s marketing, publicity and promotions campaigns. She fills a DMO industry seat and was appointed for a term beginning September 12, 2018 and ending June 30, 2020.
VISIT FLORIDA’s 31-member Board consists of 16 regional seats appointed to represent all geographic areas of the state, and 15 additional seats that represent key sectors of the Florida tourism industry. The VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors is the organization’s private sector governing body that, along with the members of its councils, committees and work groups, provide guidance, input and insight into the evolution of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing programs.
During the annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held September 12-14 at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, VISIT FLORIDA announced the recipients of the 2018 Flagler Awards, Hall of Fame Award, Film Florida Legend Award, Iris D. Larson Awards, and FAZA Florida Nature Conservation Award. Each year, leaders in Florida tourism are chosen by a selection committee to receive these prestigious honors and awards.
Florida Tourism Hall of Fame Since 2001, individuals have been chosen annually to be inducted into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. This honor, presented by the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, recognizes contemporary and historic figures whose vision, creativity and drive have had a positive and significant impact on the development of Florida as a desirable visitor destination.
The 2018 Florida Tourism Hall of Fame inductee is the late Rhea Chiles, wife of former Florida Senator and Governor Lawton Chiles. Known as an influential force in her husband’s policy initiatives, Rhea Chiles made many contributions to Florida tourism, including the establishment of Florida House, the Polk Museum of Art and the Studio at Gulf and Pine.
Flagler Awards Named for Henry Flagler, the Flagler Awards were established in 2000 to recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida. Annually, the Flagler Awards honor many of the countless individuals and organizations that help maintain and improve Florida’s position as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. The awards are open to all individuals, private businesses and not-for-profit organizations offering a product or service that promotes tourism to or within the state of Florida.
As in previous years, the 2018 Flagler Awards drew entries from Florida’s tourism partners, large and small. Working independently, seven judges evaluated the creativity, innovation, production quality and effectiveness of each entry. Based on the judges’ cumulative scores, awards were presented to the top three entries in each category: the Bronze Award for the third highest scoring entry, the Silver Award for the second highest scoring entry, and for the highest scoring entry in each category, the Henry Award. The 2018 Flagler Award winners in 17 categories, plus Best in Show at three budget levels, are listed below.
Creativity in Public Relations
Bronze: Visit Panama City Beach for Preschoolers In Paradise
Silver: Winterfest of Pensacola for How the Grinch Stole Christmas (from AL, LA, GA, MS…)
Silver: Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches for Dodge the Dunes
Henry: Visit Tampa Bay for International Activation with Visit Tampa Bay and Norwich City Soccer
Bronze: Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa for Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Email Welcome Series
Bronze: The Florida Keys & Key West for Spring E‐Newsletter Campaign
Silver: Space Florida for Vacationauts Eclipse Simulator
Henry: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for Amelia Island Marketing Automation
Bronze: Shephard’s Beach Resort for “4 Decades of Fun” Story Contest
Silver: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for Ever So Slightly Digital Advertising
Henry: West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority for What’s Up in West Volusia Video Series (Episodes 1 & 2)
Mixed Media Campaign
Bronze: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for Islandology Campaign
Silver: The Florida Keys & Key West for Hurricane Irma
Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Greater Together Campaign
Bronze: The Florida Keys & Key West for Mobile Co‐op Carousel
Silver: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for Interactive Video Overview
Henry: AD1 Global for Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista SMS
Bronze: Florida Disabled Outdoors Association for SportsAbility
Silver: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for The Amelia Island Wellness Festival
Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Underground Lauderdale
Bronze: The Florida Aquarium for 3‐D Shark
Silver: Visit South Walton for South Walton Chicago Window Display
Henry: The Florida Keys & Key West for Philadelphia Own A City
Bronze: Visit South Walton for Visit South Walton Beyond the Beach Print Campaign
Silver: The Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau for “A Destination You Can Count On” ‐‐ Print Campaign
Henry: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for “Ever So Slightly Special” Print Ads
Bronze: The Florida Keys & Key West for Houston Radio
Silver: Space Florida for Vacationauts Path of Totality Radio Promotion
Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Hello Sunny 2.0 Radio
Resource/Promotional Material – Consumer
Bronze Award: The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for Holiday Travel TV Special – “Sun, Sand and Holiday Fun”
Silver Award: The Florida Keys & Key West for Historic Brochure
The Henry: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Digital Vacation Planner
Resource/Promotional Material – Trade
Bronze Award: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Group Meetings Campaign
Silver Award: Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades CVB for “Dear Meeting Planner” Meetings Video
The Henry: Town of Surfside for Town of Surfside’s Trade Promotional Material
Rural County Marketing
Bronze Award: South Florida State College for 2017‐2018 Performing Arts Season Brochure
Silver Award: DeSoto County Tourism Development Council for Discover DeSoto “Open for Business” Sweepstakes
The Henry: Visit Sebring for Citrus Golf Trail
Social Media Marketing
Bronze Award: Town of Surfside for Town of Surfside’s 2017 Social Media Marketing
Silver Award: Caribe Royale All‐Suite Hotel & Convention Center for The Caribe Royale Guest Advocacy Campaign with Flip.to
The Henry: Visit South Walton for Visit South Walton Facebook Canvas
Bronze: Visit Pensacola for The Pensacola Experience
Silver: Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for 4th Annual Delray Beach Fashion Week
Henry: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau for The Pétanque Amelia Island Open
Bronze Award: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Hello Sunny 2.0 Television
Silver Award: The Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau for “A Destination You Can Count On” Television Campaign
The Henry: The Florida Keys & Key West for The Florida Keys & Key West ‐ Television
Bronze Award: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for Annual Marketing Plan Presentation Luncheon
Silver Award: Visit Tampa Bay for Memory Makers
The Henry: Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades CVB for “Put Paradise On the Map” Tourism Awards Event
Bronze Award: Visit Sarasota County for VisitSarasota.com
Silver Award: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for Goal Driven Website Personalization
The Henry: The Florida Keys & Key West for Authentic Connections, the Florida Keys & Key West Official Website: Fla‐Keys.com
Best of Show
Annual marketing budget less than $500,000: West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority for What’s Up in West Volusia Video Series (Episodes 1 & 2)
Annual marketing budget between $500,000 ‐ $2 million: Town of Surfside for We Are Go, FL – Town of Surfside’s 2017 Social Media Marketing
Annual marketing budget greater than $2 million: Visit South Walton for Visit South Walton Facebook Canvas
Iris D. Larson Awards Created by Bob and Iris Larson, past owners of a small motel in Kissimmee, the Iris D. Larson Awards recognize hospitality and tourism industry professionals and students who exemplify the qualities of selfless spirit of service and leadership in their work experience.
Scholarship Award Winners
Daniela Diaz, Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Florida International University
Alexis Munsell, Dedman School of Hospitality, Florida State University
Matthew Temmer, Rosen School of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Hospitality Endowment for Industry Service Award Winner
Molly Ford, Vibe Manager, Hard Rock Hotel Orlando
Film Florida Legends Tourism Ambassador Award Film Florida and VISIT FLORIDA honored Hip hop artist, reality television series star, philanthropist and Florida resident Vanilla Ice with the Film Florida Legends Tourism Ambassador Award. The award, presented by entertainment production association Film Florida, honors those legends in the entertainment industry that are true ambassadors for Florida. Vanilla Ice was honored for his work in music, television, and in his community.
Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums Florida Nature Conservation Award This award recognizes excellence in field conservation efforts to benefit Florida species being carried out by a Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums (FAZA) Member institution or as a collaboration of FAZA Member Institutions and their conservation partners. This year, the award was presented to Brevard Zoo’s Restore Our Shores Oyster Restoration Project.
In addition to caring for endangered species in their zoos and aquariums, FAZA members collectively invested over $100 million dollars to saving plants and animals in the wild over the last seven years. Of this, nearly $40 million dollars was dedicated to efforts to help Florida species and habitats.
Today, VISIT FLORIDA announced its FY 2018-2019 Board of Directors and industry committees. Numerous VISIT FLORIDA partners, including some of the industry’s foremost experts, have been selected to represent the tourism industry for the new term.
Lino Maldonado, Vice President of Operations, Growth, and Innovation for Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America, is the new Chair of the 2018-2019 VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. Lino succeeds Maryann Ferenc, President and CEO of Mise en Place in Tampa, who served as Chair for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Maryann Ferenc, outgoing Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “Over the past year, the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, leadership and staff, DMOs, and all of the industry have shared ideas, concerns, inspiration and action in a way that has to not only built on the foundation of the past, but created opportunity for the future. I believe we have positioned ourselves for the next great steps in our transformation.”
During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, under Ferenc’s leadership, VISIT FLORIDA secured $76 million in funding from Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, launched the most robust, innovative and affordable cooperative marketing programs in corporation history, and helped the state continue to set tourism records, including several record setting quarters and an all-time highest 116.5 million out-of-state visitors in 2017.
Ken Lawson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said, “As a passionate advocate for the Florida tourism industry, Maryann did a tremendous job leading the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors this past year and we are grateful for her guidance. As we move into a new year, I cannot think of a better successor than Lino Maldonado who brings years of experience and extensive travel industry knowledge to his new leadership position with VISIT FLORIDA. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature and the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, we are better positioned than ever to strengthen Florida’s share of the global travel market to become the number one global destination.”
During his upcoming year as Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, Lino Maldonado intends to build on the momentum VISIT FLORIDA has achieved and focus on efforts that will propel the Sunshine State’s tourism industry to attract even more visitors. Under Lino Maldonado’s direction, VISIT FLORIDA committees have been restructured and work groups have been introduced. This reorganization aims to cultivate further collaboration between VISIT FLORIDA and industry sectors, and harness collective knowledge to advance tourism in the state. Work groups will be assembled around specific issues, market needs, or projects. Group members will be selected on an as-needed basis from diverse areas of expertise and geography. The 2018-2019 VISIT FLORIDA Committees are Audit, Finance, Marketing Council, and the Industry, Small Business and Rural Development Council.
Lino Maldonado, Chair of the 2018-2019 VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “Florida’s diverse tourism industry is well represented by those serving on our board and committees. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues and the VISIT FLORIDA staff to ensure VISIT FLORIDA continues to serve as a catalyst for maximizing the tourism industry’s efforts to attract visitors from around the globe. Coming off of our seventh consecutive record-setting year, this new committee structure will expand the tourism industry’s potential for growth and position VISIT FLORIDA to make the Sunshine State the number one travel destination in the world.”
The Board of Directors is the VISIT FLORIDA’s private sector governing body which, along with the members of its committees, provide guidance, input and insight into the evolution of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing programs. Appointed by Enterprise Florida in conjunction with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the 31-member board is comprised of representatives from key sectors of the tourism industry and is balanced geographically throughout the state.
To view the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Committee members, please click here. For additional information or for assistance with setting up interviews with any of VISIT FLORIDA’s executives or volunteer leadership, please contact Stephen Lawson at slawson@VISITFLORIDA.org.
Last month, in an effort to keep Florida top of mind with international travelers, VISIT FLORIDA joined more than 6,000 attendees from over 70 countries in Denver, Colorado for this year’s IPW—the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.
IPW, which took place May 19-23, gathers travel professionals—including U.S. destinations, hotels, attractions, sports teams and transportation companies, and international tour operators, buyers and wholesalers from around the world—to meet in one place to help bring the world to America.
This year’s event was attended by approximately 1,000 U.S. travel organizations, more than 1,300 international and domestic buyers, and over 500 members of the media. Over the course of five days, there were 100,000 prescheduled business meetings between suppliers and buyers, expected to result in $4.7 billion in future international travel to the U.S.
VISIT FLORIDA was well represented with a huge presence on the trade show floor. In addition to key staff from across the organization, VISIT FLORIDA brought a strong contingent of international representatives from Canada, China, Germany, Latin America and the UK. The VISIT FLORIDA International team conducted over 180 pre-scheduled appointments with tour operators and travel trade professionals, and the Public Relations team held more than 50 media meetings in addition to facilitating executive interviews with international and domestic writers in the IPW Media Marketplace.
Elvi Cal, Vice President Product Development, TravelBrands, said, “We met with the VISIT Florida team at IPW in Denver mid-May and had very constructive discussions on driving more Canadians to the state. For TravelBrands, Florida is key to our future growth in the US, and from a Canadian outbound travel perspective, the state leads with 17% of visitors and also dominates in visitor nights and spending so it is crucial we work together to continue this trend. TravelBrands and VISIT FLORIDA have worked together for many years and the relationship is extremely valuable so we are thrilled to be key partners in possible joint marketing ventures.”
Elena Wang, Assistant General Manager, Galaxy Tour, INC, said, “As the top wholesalers in China, Galaxy Tours has developed in depth Florida-only products for the market and saw a big increase for Florida-related products during 2017 and the 2018 Chinese New Year holidays. With Delta launching their direct flight from PVG to ATL, Galaxy Tours would like to keep working with VISIT FLORIDA to develop more Florida products showcasing the diversity of Florida.”
In an effort to share Florida’s sunshine with Chinese travelers, staff from VISIT FLORIDA’s International Marketing and Public Relations teams recently hosted a ten-day sales mission in China.
Developed by the VISIT FLORIDA International Marketing and Avia Reps China, the China sales mission took place from April 16-26, in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shanghai. Ten Industry Partners joined VISIT FLORIDA to engage top travel agents, tour operators and media though sales meetings, appointments, seminars and networking events.
China, one of Florida’s key global markets, is ranked in the top 10 countries for international visitation to the state. Last year, of the 116.5 million total people who came to Florida, nearly 286,000 were from China. Additionally, among Chinese travelers interested in visiting the U.S., interest in the Sunshine State has increased 18 percent over the past four years.
In each city, VISIT FLORIDA hosted VIP lunches for 50 key Chinese travel trade professionals to encourage them to extend their Florida offerings. In addition, half-day seminars were held in the afternoon for targeted travel agencies including major outbound tour operators, wholesalers, U.S. receptive tour operators, airlines and other China-based trade associates. In Beijing and Shanghai, one-on-one appointments were scheduled, sales calls were conducted, and VISIT FLORIDA hosted media receptions where Industry Partners met with top-tier journalists and digital influencers to discuss possible story ideas.
Also while in Shanghai, VISIT FLORIDA was invited to attend the first ShanghaiWow! Hotel and Travel Forum and Award Ceremony. VISIT FLORIDA was honored with a Top 10 Destination award and five Florida locations took home destination distinctions of their own. Orlando was awarded a Best Family Travel Destination; Miami won Best Culture Destination; Tampa Bay was presented with Best Culinary Destination; Fort Lauderdale received Best Shopping Destination; and the Florida Keys collected Best Driving Destination. Also as part of the award ceremony, ShanghaiWow! hosted a symposium for travel industry leaders where VISIT FLORIDA shared marketing insights and strategies for the China market.
VISIT FLORIDA could not have had such a successful China sales mission without our Industry Partners in attendance – Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, Miami Sunny, EZ Hospitality (Rodeway Inn & Suites), Grand Beach Hotel, Sincerely Vacations, ShengDa Travel, Royal Caribbean Cruise, and Coral Castle.
Fernando Harb, Senior Vice President Tourism Sales, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “Traveling to China on business can be intimidating especially due to language barriers. VISIT FLORIDA’s recent China Sales Mission made it as easy as travelling domestically. Everything was expertly coordinated! VISIT FLORIDA provided the best platform to meet with the top tour operators, premiere media representatives and the travel agent community in four major cities. Quite literally, all you have to do is show up and sell, they take care of everything else!”
Izzy Fintz, General Manager, EZ Hospitality, said, “The VISIT FLORIDA China Mission was an extremely valuable investment for my business. The entire trip was professionally organized and executed to make the most out of the two weeks in China. After meeting with travel trade professionals and learning more about Chinese travel trends, the Rodeway Inn and Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport Cruise Port is better equipped to serve the market. I look forward to working with the contacts made during this mission and hope to nurture these relationships on future China sales missions.”
To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA’s international marketing efforts, visit VISITFLORIDA.org and check out our online Marketing Planner.
Today, VISIT FLORIDA released the results of its 2017 Canadian marketing efforts. In 2017, Canadian visitation to Florida increased from 3.35 million in 2016 to 3.48 million visitors, or 4 percent. Additionally, from January to November 2017, Canadian air travel to Florida was up 5.9 percent, and ground transportation was up 1.3 percent. These increases come after three consecutive years of a decline in Canadian visitation to Florida.
Ken Lawson, President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said “These results show that more and more Canadians are visiting the Sunshine State, which is great news. These increases in Canadian visitation show that our new marketing strategies highlighting the diversity of Florida are working. By creating innovative programs such as the Canadian Power Play Program and the Canada Takeover, we made it more exciting and affordable to visit the Sunshine State. We will keep working to send a warm, open and welcoming message to our Canadian friends, and let them know that there is no better time than right now to visit Florida.”
The Canadian campaign included a historic advertising spend in 2017 consisting of digital, television, out of home, paid social elements, and partnerships with companies like Expedia and the Weather Network in Canada. In the fall, VISIT FLORIDA launched a Canada Takeover in early November that included digital billboards in Yonge-Dundas Square, display activations from various Florida destinations in Union Station, as well as a media reception and press conference with Governor Scott. During the press conference, the Governor and VISIT FLORIDA unveiled a successful “Power Play” Parity Program, which included discounts of 20 percent or more from Florida destinations, attractions, and transportation. This discounted rate was designed to eliminate the currency exchange disparity between the U.S. and Canadian Dollars.
Susan Harper, Consul General of Canada in Miami, Florida, said “Canada is Florida’s number one source of international visitors, and it’s great to see that more Canadians have decided to visit the Sunshine State following VISIT FLORIDA’s recent marketing campaign. Their message focused on the warmth, diversity, openness and inclusion of their great state, which is why it resonated so well with Canadians. Florida is a wonderful second home and vacation destination for so many Canadians, and I look forward to seeing the continued success of VISIT FLORIDA in attracting more Canadians to the Sunshine State.”
The results of the winter campaign illustrate its success. The Facebook segment of the campaign performed 91 percent above average across all brands in terms of ad recall by Canadians. It included significant gains in the 35-44 age group with intent to consider a vacation to Florida. The “Power Play” Parity Program attracted 58 partner discounts, and the landing page generated over 20,000 unique clicks directly to at least one discount page. The press conference and partner activations in Toronto generated over 6 million impressions in Canada alone.
Brazil is one of Florida’s key global markets, ranked third for international visitation to Florida. Last week, to ensure the Sunshine State remains top of mind with Brazilian travelers, VISIT FLORIDA’s International Marketing and Public Relations teams participated in World Travel Market Latin America 2018.
Now in its sixth year, WTM Latin America was held April 3-5 at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil. As the world’s leading event for the travel industry in Latin America, the three-day show attracted 6,000 travel professionals and 598 exhibiting companies.
At this year’s convention, VISIT FLORIDA was joined by attendees from Industry Partners including Strategic Alliance Partners, DMOs and CVBs. In addition to coordinating the Florida Stand, VISIT FLORIDA held 25 trade show meetings, 21 media appointments, and hosted a media reception attended by 22 journalists and influencers.
Margarita Castaneda, Director of Marketing, Latin America and Caribbean, for the Hertz Corporation, said, “Our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA is extremely valuable and offers Hertz the opportunity to introduce our new brands to the Latin American market. Florida is the number one destination for Brazilians, so we were thrilled to be a part of the VISIT FLORIDA presence at WTM Latin America.”
Jack Wert, Executive Director of the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades CVB, said, “We would not be able to attend WTM Latin America without our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA. Having a presence in international markets is extremely important to our growth and being at this event with VISIT FLORIDA provides an opportunity to show Brazilian tour operators, travel agents and media that there is more to Florida than they know.”
VISIT FLORIDA could not have had such success at WTM Latin America without our Industry Partners, the Beaches of Ft. Myers & Sanibel, the Greater Ft. Lauderdale CVB, the Hertz Corporation, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB, Simon Shopping Destinations and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA’s international marketing efforts, visit VISITFLORIDA.org and check out our online Marketing Planner.
The VISIT FLORIDA team, including President & CEO Ken Lawson, stands with Industry Partners at WTM Latin America
VISIT FLORIDA and Industry Partners network with travel professionals at WTM Latin America.