TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 25, 2013) - Today, VISIT FLORIDA - the state's official tourism marketing corporation - announced its acquisition of Florida Huddle. The event, which has been operating for 37 years, is the longest running travel trade show in Florida where suppliers from around the state meet directly with domestic and international buyers of travel and travel media. The formal announcement was made during a press conference at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine as part of Florida Huddle 2013.
-Relationship building events that allow buyers and suppliers to have pre-arranged face-to-face appointments are a vital component of the Florida tourism industry's marketing efforts, said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. -The acquisition of Huddle provides a great opportunity for VISIT FLORIDA to add value for our Partners and offer first-hand information to travel trade professionals from around the globe.
As part of its due diligence, VISIT FLORIDA engaged an external consulting company with expertise in the travel industry to conduct a survey of buyers and suppliers to assess their interest in attending future Florida Huddle trade shows. The findings showed that nearly 80 percent of those surveyed, some of whom had not attended the event recently, intend to participate in the coming years. VISIT FLORIDA will retain the services of one of the event's former owners through 2014 to ensure a smooth transition.
-I have every confidence that Huddle will become even better under VISIT FLORIDA's operational control, said Christy Myers, former Vice President of Huddle International. -With their branding strength as the trusted source for all things Florida, I cannot imagine an organization better suited to take the reins than VISIT FLORIDA.
International travel to Florida has been growing steadily in recent years and is a major focus of VISIT FLORIDA's marketing efforts. In 2011, Florida welcomed more than 12.6 million international visitors who spent over $14 billion. Overseas travel to Florida increased 16.1 percent over 2010 levels. In comparison, overseas visitation to the U.S. increased 5 percent for the same period. Canadian visitation to Florida in 2011 saw an increase of 7 percent over the previous year, while Canadian travel to the U.S. increased by 5.4 percent during the same timeframe.
-By providing expanded branding opportunities and leveraging our international in-country teams- travel trade relationships, we expect to attract new and returning attendees that will allow us to take Huddle to a whole new level, said Eileen Forrow, VISIT FLORIDA's Vice President of Marketing and Events.