VISIT FLORIDA introduced some much-needed sunshine to Toronto on Tuesday evening (Jan. 17) because the group met with journey companions at a networking reception at MARKED restaurant downtown.
As margaritas and sliders had been served, Dana Younger, CEO and President of VISIT FLORIDA, which is represented by Vox Worldwide in Canada, enthusiastically shared the most recent vacation spot updates with PAX.
Canada is the primary worldwide customer supply for Florida, and whereas Canadians are returning to the Sunshine State’s seashores, theme parks and wildlife reserves, the vacation spot hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic numbers simply but.
Round 4 million Canadians visited Florida in 2019, Younger stated, and in 2022, in the course of the first three quarters, that quantity reached the 1.6 million mark (this additionally recognizing that Canada’s pre-departure testing rule didn’t carry for absolutely vaccinated travellers till April 1).
As soon as outcomes for This fall are in, Younger expects visitation numbers from Canada to be roughly half of what they had been pre-COVID.
It’s not that Canadians aren’t excited to journey – the hundreds of passengers that crammed Canadian airports final spring and summer season, and in the course of the holidays, factors to an enthusiastic market.
It actually comes right down to carry and capability, Younger stated.
“Air Canada might be the closest again to their unique capability,” she stated. “They’ve extra flights [to Florida], however they’ve much less capability as a result of they’re utilizing smaller planes.”
Vancouver market heats up
Nonetheless, there was thrilling developments in bettering Canada’s connectivity with Florida.
In December, Air Canada resumed continuous business flights between Vancouver (YVR) and Miami (MIA) after an 18-year hiatus.
That direct flight from YVR to MIA takes roughly 5 hours and 45 minutes, whereas the return takes roughly six hours and 45 minutes.
It’s an enormous deal. Beforehand, the one different continuous flight from B.C. to Florida was WestJet‘s once-weekly path to Orlando.
“We’re simply thrilled about this,” Younger stated.
And for travellers in B.C., it’s “shorter than going to Hawaii,” Younger identified. “Florida is cheaper, folks can hire a automotive simply, and there is much more variety in merchandise,” she stated.
Hearsay has it that one in every of Air Canada’s rivals can be trying to launch a brand new Vancouver-Miami flight.
“Vancouver is beginning to be the recent ticket,” Younger stated.
In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida, for essentially the most half, remained open. Journey and tourism didn’t actually shut and native companies weren’t compelled to rehire or retrain staff.
In different phrases, the Florida expertise that Canadians have come to know and love remains to be there.
However Florida has additionally been exceling in different methods – particularly with regard to the place it matches into the U.S. worldwide inbound market as a complete.
For years, New York was primary, holding down no less than 30 per cent of the market share, with Florida coming in at quantity two.
This, nevertheless, modified in 2021 when Florida surpassed New York, and by 2022, it dominated the worldwide inbound market at 44.6 per cent, Younger stated.
“Now we have not solely surpassed New York, however we’ve got crushed it,” Younger advised PAX. “We love that.”
Florida’s advertising and marketing and coaching actions in Canada – even in the course of the darkest days of the pandemic – didn’t slow down either.
“We by no means stopped with our dedication to our Canadian companions,” Younger stated.
There was, notably, VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing campaign known as “Wanderlust: Florida,” a docu-series that aired on the Climate Community and shined a light-weight on lots of the state’s hidden gems.
New journey developments emerged as nicely: in Kissimmee, simply south of Orlando close to Disney World, the demand for rentable vacation homes took off as households sought out their very own private area outdoors of conventional resorts, the place dad and mom may additionally work remotely in a snug, spacious setting.
One among Florida’s primary messages throughout COVID was that it’s not a crowded state and that locals stay most of their life outdoors because of heat temperatures and entry to an abundance of parks and wetlands.
Main theme parks – like Walt Disney World Resort and Common Orlando Resort, which proceed to develop with new sights – and Florida’s 825 miles of gorgeous seashores proceed to be a significant draw for vacationers.
“However we’re additionally attempting to coach the buyer about issues they’ll do which are a brief drive away from key airports like Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami,” Younger stated.
Michelin enters the image
That is the place new and thrilling culinary experiences enter the image: Florida, final 12 months, launched its inaugural Michelin Information for Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.
“Which we’re tremendous pleased with,” Younger stated. “It has been an enormous deal for our restaurant scene in Florida.”
The primary spherical of Michelin stars had been launched final spring and new designations are prone to be revealed this summer season, she stated.
However past Michelin-rated venues, there’s additionally a push to advertise Florida’s various delicacies on the whole, from five-star eating to beach-side meals vans to Cuban bakeries to ice pops.
Native culinary gems are highlighted in a collection of 10 to 12-minute movies known as “You’ve Gotta Try This: Chef’s Edition” whereby Cooks showcase much-loved dishes and advocate a restaurant (or Chef) in one other metropolis, whether or not or not it’s a pie store in Jacksonville or an Italian restaurant in Tampa.
Journey accessible to all
Florida has additionally made progress in its objective to grow to be the “primary accessible vacation spot on the planet.”
VISIT FLORIDA has been updating its website with new sources for folks of all skills and, pre COVID, the group launched a video collection, known as “Limitless Florida,” which reveals actions Floridians and friends, of all skills, can do within the state.
The initiative began with a module on VISIT FLORIDA’s web site, which has since grown into an in-depth useful resource of journey ideas, options and partnerships that spotlight accessible resorts and actions.
Presently within the works is a partnership with a social enterprise known as Wheel the World, which maps out resort rooms for travellers with imaginative and prescient impairment or low imaginative and prescient.
“We realized that so lots of our guests have some form of incapacity, both bodily or non-visual,” Younger stated. “And we realized that sources weren’t accessible.”
“In case you’re a household or an individual that has a necessity for accessible lodging, now you can go to visitflorida.com, entry our accessibility portal, and hopefully lookup a resort and discover what’s accessible…It is grown by leaps and bounds.”