Tourism & Cruises

Visit Florida unveils new strategies for growing tourism

Everglades National Park, Fl. -- Tarpon Bay, looking South West towards Florida Bay.
Everglades National Park, Fl. -- Tarpon Bay, looking South West towards Florida Bay. Visit Florida

With a goal to reach 100 million visitors a year, Florida destination marketers are setting their sights on nature lovers, millennials, shoppers and a growing international crowd.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing corporation, unveiled a host of new initiatives Tuesday at the 47th Annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism, continuing through Wednesday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

Last yaer, more than 93.6 million tourists came to Florida; in the first half of this year, the state welcomed an estimated 50.3 million visitors.

“The bigger we get, the harder it’s going to be to continue our momentum,” said Susannah Costello, Visit Florida’s vice president of global brand. “We’re going to have to tweak what we do.”

The new programs include:

▪ A partnership with National Geographic that will include a Florida hub on the publication’s website featuring promotions, social media and storytelling about the state’s natural offerings.

▪ Tablet apps in German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Mandarin and English for the United Kingdom and India, each customized to specific audiences.

▪ Sponsorship of Sao Paulo Fashion Week in April 2015, followed by promotions through tour operators that will include free use of a cellphone for Brazilian tourists while they are visiting — and shopping — in the state.

▪ Becoming part of the landscape of the video game “Ricky Carmichael’s Motocross Matchup” to get on the radar of millennial gamers; Carmichael, a motocross champion, will also promote Florida tourism on social media, web clips and in public appearances.

▪ Expanding a partnership with Telemundo and its show La Voz Kids, which is shot in Orlando; Alanis Sophia, a Tampa teen who was a former runner-up, will be a “brand ambassador” for the state.

The marketing corporation also announced that it will launch a new online training program for hospitality workers in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Set to roll out in a pilot to some destination marketing organizations around the end of the year, the training would touch on topics including engagement, empathy, product knowledge, conflict resolution and more.

“We know we’re going to get more visitors,” said Visit Florida Chief Marketing Officer Paul Phipps. “We’d better prepare ourselves.”