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BY THE NUMBERS: ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HUDDLE TRADE SHOW

January 12th, 2018 — 4:46pm

Earlier this week, VISIT FLORIDA concluded another successful Florida Huddle trade show in in Ft. Lauderdale. Florida Huddle is the premier appointment-based tradeshow showcasing all the Sunshine State has to offer for domestic and international tour operators and wholesalers. As one of VISIT FLORIDA’s signature events, Florida Huddle brings together domestic and international tour operators and wholesaler buyers with Florida destinations, attractions, properties and service companies selling their products all under one roof. Collectively, tour operators and wholesalers send millions of visitors to Florida annually, so creating more opportunities like Huddle for Florida companies to showcase their version of sunshine is so important.

Florida Huddle 2018 by the numbers:

  • Total attendees: 603
  • Buyers: 224
    • From # countries: 14
  • Total Buyer Companies: 157
  • Appointment taking Suppliers: 202
  • Total Supplier Companies: 208
  • Total appointments made: 6,770
  • Total Media: 34

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Stacy Ritter, President & CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said “Aside from the significant economic impact of hosting this prestigious conference in Greater Fort Lauderdale, we are pleased to be able to highlight our world class LEED certified convention center, unique meeting venues and culinary scene to travel trade and media.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our diverse, warm and welcoming destination around the world.”

Maureen Maheu, Director, USA & Cruise Division of Sunwing Travel Group and 25-Year Attendee, said “Florida Huddle is one of the shows I wouldn’t miss. It is always beneficial to meet with new suppliers and current contacts. We have added three new hotels to our product offering as the result of the meetings on the first day.”

James Killick, Destination Manager at Virgin Holidays and 17-Year Attendee, said “Florida is an important event in our calendar each year. Florida is such an important destination for both Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic, so it’s imperative that we attend. Florida Huddle serves as a spring board for catching up with our existing Partners and forming new relationships. It allows us to review how the year ahead is looking and plan for the following year.

David Towbridge, President of Resort Inventory Group, and 10-Year Attendee, said “From the high caliber suppliers to the appointment scheduling style, Florida Huddle is a very efficient show that benefits our company year after year.”

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Stephen Lawson
Vice President of Government Relations
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FLORIDA TOURISM LEADERS APPLAUD GOVERNOR SCOTT’S LEADERSHIP IN PROTECTING FLORIDA’S BEACHES

January 11th, 2018 — 5:45pm
Today, Florida Tourism leaders voiced their support for Governor Scott’s leadership in removing Florida’s coastline from any potential oil drilling. Florida is home to 825 miles of world-class beaches that attract millions of visitors every year. In 2017, Siesta Key was named the number one beach in America, and Florida had three beaches in the top 10.
President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA Ken Lawson, said “Exempting Florida from any offshore drilling is a huge win for tourism in our state. Florida’s beaches are a global icon, attracting millions of visitors to the Sunshine State every year. By keeping offshore drilling away from Florida, we’re ensuring our world-class beaches will remain beautiful for generations to come. Governor Scott has been a champion for tourism in Florida, and I want to thank him for his strong leadership on this important issue.”
Chair of VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors Maryann Ferenc, said “By keeping Florida’s waters free of oil drilling, Florida’s tourism industry scored a huge win. Caring for our environment in Florida and elsewhere is critical to our well-being and can be achieved alongside economic prosperity. Our beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, helping us attract millions of visitors each year. We now have peace of mind as we market our state that those beaches will be beautiful and safe. I appreciate the Governor taking a lead on this important issue.”
Stephen Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach”, said “Florida’s beaches are some of the best in the world, and have consistently been in my rankings of top beaches, with Siesta Key being last year’s top overall beach. Tourism is the largest industry in Florida, and their beaches are a large part of that. With the recent decision to keep Florida’s coastline free of any oil drilling, Florida is ensuring those beaches will remain flawless treasures that attract people from all across the world. I want to thank Governor Scott for his leadership on this issue and for fighting for tourism in Florida.”
Steve Hayes, President & CEO of Visit Pensacola, said “Keeping offshore drilling out of Florida is absolutely the right decision, and I want to thank Governor Scott for leading the charge on this. In the panhandle, we know better than most the harmful effects offshore drilling can have because our beaches are woven into every aspect of our life here, from fishing to tourism to our restaurants and lodging and everything in between. By keeping our beaches clean, we’re putting Northwest Florida and our state on track to become the number one global destination.”
Bill Talbert, President & CEO of the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitors Bureau, said “Florida would not be the global destination that it is without our world-class beaches. Thanks to Governor Scott’s leadership to ensure there is no offshore oil drilling in Florida, our beaches will be safe and secure for generations to come. We will continue to attract millions of visitors thanks to this recent decision and sell Florida’s sunshine to the rest of the world.”
Dan Rowe, President & CEO of Visit Panama City Beach, said “Thanks to Governor Scott’s leadership, Florida’s beaches are free from the potential harms of offshore drilling. In the panhandle, we saw firsthand the devastating effects offshore drilling can have not just on our beaches, but on our environment, economy, and way of life. Our beaches are so very important to us in Northwest Florida, and I want to thank the Governor for his leadership to ensure our beaches will be pristine for generations to come.”
Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, said “For us to continue to set records as an industry, we have to ensure our environment remains world-class. In Tampa Bay, our beautiful water and Bayfront are vital to attracting tourists from across the country and around the world. Keeping offshore oil drilling out of our state is a great step to ensure we keep our treasures pristine.”
Bobby Cornwell, President & CEO of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, said “The beauty of Florida’s beaches is unparalleled, and keeping them pristine is so important. Thanks to Governor Scott’s leadership, our coastline will remain free of any oil drilling. We can now rest assured that our 825 miles of beautiful white sand and clear water will remain intact for our resident, visitors, and the rest of the world to enjoy.
Curt Blair, Administrator of Franklin County Tourism Development Council, said “In Franklin County, we’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of offshore drilling. Our beaches in the Panhandle are world-renown, and keeping them beautiful is so important not just for our visitors, but our residents as well. By keeping offshore drilling out of Florida, we’re ensuring that our beaches, fisheries, and overall economy will remain vibrant. I want to thank Governor Scott for keeping offshore drilling out of Florida and for his leadership on tourism issues.”
Jack Wert, Executive Director of Naples, Marco Island and Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, said “I want to thank Governor Scott for standing up for Florida’s beaches and fighting to remove our state from the list of offshore drilling zones. Florida’s beaches are some of the best in the world, and without them, we wouldn’t be a top destination for visitors. Our beaches and environment play a huge role in our economy, and with this decision, we’re ensuring that we’re keeping them safe and clean.”
Danny Gaekwad, President & CEO of MGM Hotels, said “I want to thank Governor Scott for being such a steadfast supporter of tourism in our state. He singlehandedly took offshore drilling off the table in Florida, which is great news for our beaches and state. We will see the fruits of this for years to come thanks to the best tourism Governor in the country.”
Gene Prescott, Owner of the historic Biltmore Hotel and the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater, said “Keeping our beaches beautiful is one of the most important things we can do as a state and as an industry. Our beaches enhance our quality of life while at the same time attracting millions of visitors from around the world each and every year. With the decision to remove Florida from any offshore drilling, we’ve cemented that legacy. I want to thank Governor Scott, Senators Nelson and Rubio who fought hard to keep our beaches clean and this legacy intact.”
Keith Hansen, Vice President of Airport & Government Affairs for Allegiant Airlines, said Florida’s beaches are some of the most unique treasures in the world, and keeping their environment pristine is a critical attraction for tourism across the country, and around the globe. The decision to keep Florida’s coastline free of offshore oil drilling will ensure the state continues to be a premier destination for visitors, and we thank Governor Scott for his leadership on this issue.

Stephen Lawson
Vice President of Government Relations

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VISIT FLORIDA Announces 4th Quarter Blitz

November 30th, 2017 — 2:29pm

Mall 1Last week, Governor Scott and VISIT FLORIDA announced another record quarter for tourism, with Florida welcoming over 88 million visitors through the first nine months of the year.  This represents a 3.3 percent increase over last year, which is great news. Even with this success, we are continuing to aggressively market our state to finish the year.  We are doubling down on our success by launching our new 4th Quarter Blitz Campaign, which will encourage last-minute, impulse getaways for consumers during the holiday season.  The campaign will include digital advertising, radio promotions, Facebook Live broadcasts, and shopping mall takeovers targeted towards our largest markets on the East Coast, such as Atlanta, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

Mall 2The targeted digital advertising elements will include Google TrueView, Taboola, Adara, and Quantcast.  These elements use digital algorithms to help distribute Florida holiday-themed content to targeted consumers across a number of platforms.  The radio promotions will air in Detroit, Houston and Atlanta and be featured on nationally-syndicated shows such as Elvis Duran, Mario Lopez, Delilah and Bobby Bones.  These promotions will give listeners a chance to win a trip to Florida, but also keep Florida’s sunshine top of mind during the winter season.  The Facebook Live broadcasts will feature six Florida cities and focus on the warm weather at some of our state’s brightest attractions and destinations.  And finally, with our shopping mall takeovers, we’re placing fresh content on cutting-edge video boards and ad panels at some of the busiest, high-end malls on the East Coast, such as Lenox Square in Atlanta and King of Prussia in Philadelphia.

With these elements in place, our 4th Quarter Blitz will help last minute travelers and shoppers wrap up some sunshine this holiday season as we round out another successful year for tourism in our state.


Stephen Lawson
Vice President of Government Relations

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VISIT FLORIDA & Partners Take Center Stage at WTM London 2017

November 29th, 2017 — 4:03pm

WTM 2017 VF StandEarlier this month, VISIT FLORIDA attended World Travel Market London 2017 (WTM), the second largest annual international travel tradeshow.  Now in its 38th year, WTM has long been a must-attend business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to the U.K. and other international travel professionals.  This year, the show attracted more than 51,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media, as well as 5,000 exhibitors from 182 countries. Continue reading »


Tim DeClaire
Director, International Marketing

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Gov. Scott: Florida Hits All-Time Record High for Tourism

November 21st, 2017 — 9:42am

Miami Tourism Event_2Late yesterday, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another tourism record by welcoming the highest number of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history with 88.2 million visitors.  This represents a 3.3 percent increase over the 85.4 million visitors from the same period in 2016.  This includes 77.6 million domestic visitors, 7.9 million overseas visitors and 2.7 million Canadians visitors.  Governor Scott made the announcement at Azucar Ice Cream Company, a locally-owned ice cream boutique that has been nationally recognized as one of Little Havana’s top tourist destinations. Continue reading »


Ken Lawson
President & CEO

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