Yesterday evening, Visit Florida held an exclusive VIP networking event at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel here in Toronto, giving Canada's travel trade the opportunity to meet with several partners representing Florida's key destinations and attractions.
Last year was a strong year for the Sunshine State, and Visit Florida presented 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 four per cent. Additionally, from January to November 2017, Canadian air travel to Florida was up 5.9 per cent, and ground transportation was up 1.3 per cent. These increases come after three consecutive years of a decline in Canadian visitation to Florida.
Despite damage caused to parts of Key West and Key Largo during the September 2017 hurricanes, Canadians are increasingly interested in planning a Florida vacation.
The following partners were present last night to provide industry updates, highlighting everything from new hotel builds, to attractions, to events:
- Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel
- CIRC Hotel
- Destination Panama City
- Doubletree Resort by Hilton Hollywood Beach
- Magic Village Resort
- Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB
- Seaworld Parks & Entertainment
- Visit Sarasota County
- Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
- Visit Tampa Bay
- Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
A particularily noteworthy update came from Seaworld Parks & Entertainment, with the announcement of the company's Animal Care Program. With animal welfare in mind, Seaworld has rescued and rehabilitated more than 31,000 animals, not just marine life. They also announced the Park to Planet visit, which allows tourists to give back to wildlife through the purchase of any park ticket, as well as a special offer for Canadian residents, which provides a discount on single-day tickets.
Visit Florida has big plans for the future, with two major announcements made last night. First, a brand new Florida Soecialists program will be available to travel agents in the very near future.
"We're rolling out the new e-learning program, our Florida Specialists Program later this year, and it's essentially for various vehicles in Canada to promote Florida as a destination, whether that's through hotels, attractions, events, or beyond," said Annika Klint, managing director, The Kai Group. "We will use it for upcoming FAMs, and it will be a very big, integrated program for the travel agent community."
No exact date has been given as of yet for the Florida Specialists Program, but Klint promises details will become available soon.
Also worth keeping an eye out for is a major marketing campaign by Air Canada Vacations (ACV) and Visit Florida, which will go public next week.
For more information on Florida as a destination, visit http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html or www.loveflorida.ca.