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Florida To International Visitors: We're Open, So Visit When You're Able!

Visit Florida

The coronavirus pandemic has brought Florida’s tourism industry almost to a halt. But the agency in charge of marketing the state is making a pitch to visitors near and far.

The agency in charge of selling Florida as a tourist destination has a started a campaign to lure back international visitors. Visit Florida is making plans for travel years from now - and in a post-pandemic world.

Florida is a popular destination for visitors from around the world, but the state sees the most overseas traffic from the United Kingdom.

The U.K. - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - recently announced new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID, so it’s unlikely holiday makers from Manchester or Glasgow will be flying to the Sunshine State anytime soon. U.S. restrictions on international visitors are also in place.

But that hasn’t stopped Visit Florida from selling the state to potential visitors who may show up a year, even two years from now. Last month, it held a virtual “Florida Fest” with U.K. travel agents that featured a paddle board yoga video and a beer tasting sponsored by Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing.

"Brits want to travel," Visit Florida CEO Dana Young said in an interview with British trade publication TTG Media, which sponsored the virtual event. "Maybe not right this moment, but the U.K. is such a resilient country and Brits are keen to travel. In fact, they're already booking in '22, '23, and even 2024. So we are seeing this pent up demand.”

The return of the visitors can't come soon enough. The coronavirus has resulted in a 55 percent drop in overseas visits compared to 2019. Florida saw 10.9 million total overseas visitors last year.

It's not just overseas traffic Visit Florida realizes needs to return. The most international visitors come to Florida from Canada, so much so that Visit Florida counts Canadian tourists in their own category.

This year, the number of visitors from Canada is down almost 48 percent over just a year ago. Visit Florida recently launched an ad campaign there.

It's also running spots in TV markets that are within a 700-mile driving distance of the state.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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