TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 28, 2013) – In support of the state’s No. 1 industry, Governor Scott met last week with a contingent of international airline executives and tour operators to discuss ways to increase airlift to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – coordinated the event, which brought together key executives from Aer Lingus, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Etihad, Iceland Air, iTravel2000, Monarch Travel, Qatar Airways, Sunwing Travel and Tour America.
Additionally, tourism representatives from seven major Florida destinations participated in the event, including The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater and Visit Tampa Bay. Also in attendance were executives from MGM Hotels and Universal Orlando Resorts.
The gathering, which was held in France as part of the Governor's economic development mission, was designed to coincide with the Paris Air Show and the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race where guests cheered on the No. 30 VISIT FLORIDA/Viva Florida 500/Brand USA car. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest active sports car race, held annually in front of a crowd of nearly 250,000 spectators, with more than 700 million more watching the televised coverage from 190 countries around the globe.
Governor Rick Scott said, “The Sunshine State is the number one tourist destination in the world, and we are ideally positioned to be a global hub for business. Two consecutive years of record visitation has created thousands of jobs for Florida families. We will continue to look for opportunities to expand tourism and jobs in our state. Our trip to the Paris Air Show has been very productive, and today’s meeting with major tourism officials further solidifies Florida’s commitment to being the top destination for tourism and jobs.”
During peak travel periods, Florida has over 195,000 airline seats arriving into the state from Europe, South America and Central America per week. Considering load factors, this equates to more than 149,000 passengers per week. Acquiring one new major flight arriving four times per week from a core European market is estimated to have an economic impact totaling $793,000 per week to the local and state economy.
“In today’s highly competitive global travel marketplace, VISIT FLORIDA and our industry partners are focused on increasing international airline service to the state,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. "With the value of every new flight we add generating nearly $800,000 weekly in revenue for the economy, Governor Scott’s efforts to help sell the Sunshine State bring us ever closer to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
VISIT FLORIDA’s vision is to be the No. 1 travel destination in the world by attracting 100 million visitors to the Sunshine State. Critical to this goal is attracting airline partners to add new international routes to Florida. To that end, VISIT FLORIDA created “Air Team Florida” to provide a means of working collectively with destinations and airport partners around the state to competitively position the Sunshine State for new international route development. Relationships with network planners and commercial directors from major airlines around the world are being developed through matching airline grants and our participation at airline shows.
These carriers and tour operators have global options available to them when choosing new routes for their passengers. It is critical that Florida remain top of mind with them as a preferred destination and we appreciate Governor Scott’s commitment in helping VISIT FLORIDA bring new routes and flights to the Sunshine State.
Additional quotes from event attendees:
DT Minich, Executive Director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater
“We appreciate that Governor Scott and VISIT FLORIDA understand growing international air service is at the top of the list for every major destination these days. Providing opportunities for face-time with prospective air-service partners is a key part of us achieving that growth.”
Tamara Pigott, Executive Director of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
“The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel very much appreciates this opportunity to meet one-on-one with key airline leaders to share our interest in securing additional international air service to our destination. Thank you to Governor Scott and VISIT FLORIDA, who continue to lead our industry to new heights by facilitating activities like this one.”
John Keogh, European Sales Manager with Aer Lingus
“Florida continues to be a very popular holiday destination with Aer Lingus customers. Aer Lingus has grown its direct services between Dublin and Orlando in recent years, in addition to expanding its network with partner airline, jetBlue. We appreciate this opportunity to meet with tourism officials to explore further opportunities for growth in travel to Florida.”
Sharon Archbold, Financial Contoller with Tour America Ireland
“Florida remains one of Tour America’s preferred destinations even in Ireland’s current economic climate. Despite increased airline capacity across North America, Florida has proved itself the firm favorite with our clients and we are grateful for this chance to discuss further expansion of our options in the Sunshine State.”
Reg Mendes, Vice President USA Division with Sunwing Travel Group
“Canadians love Florida, and with Sunwing delivering the highest growth of all Canadian operators last Winter, it was important to have this unique opportunity to formulate strategies to maintain that momentum.”
Joe Lopano, Chief Executive Officer, Tampa International Airport
“Gov. Scott’s trip to the Paris Air Show demonstrates clearly his commitment to recruiting international aviation and aerospace businesses to Florida. This is one of the industry’s leading global events, and a great opportunity for the Governor to showcase Florida as an ideal place for corporate relocations and expansions, as well as one of the world’s best tourist destinations.”
Phillip N. Brown, Executive Director, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
“We are indeed fortunate to have a Governor that recognizes the importance of promoting Florida at the Paris Air Show, which is one of the major events for the world’s airports, airlines, and manufacturers. Florida’s airports focus on business from around the world and having the State’s Chief Executive Officer promoting our state as a global business hub establishes our presence as a major player in the world market.”
Steve Grossman, CEO-Executive Director, Jacksonville Aviation Authority
"The Governor's presence at the Paris Air Show is a vital visible sign of the state's commitment to make Florida a player in the aerospace business. My experience is that the Governor creates an excitement at events like the Paris Air Show that cannot be matched by anyone else. As a community actively seeking aerospace industries, the Governor can put us over the finish line in landing this business.”
Larry A. Dale, President and CEO, Orlando Sanford International Airport
“In partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida’s International airports are strategically positioned to facilitate Governor Scott’s continued vision and leadership to make Florida a global business hub.”
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 91.4 million visitors in 2012 who spent $71.8 billion, generating 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and employing more than one million Floridians. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – generates more than $258 in tourism spending and $15 in new sales tax collections, paid by visitors, not residents. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves nearly 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including 2,700 invested Partners, 8,900 web affiliates and major strategic alliance partnerships with Disney Destinations, Dollar Rent A Car, The Hertz Corporation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Universal Orlando. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, please go to www.VISITFLORIDA.org or follow our corporate blog at www.SunshineMatters.org.