Florida Is Open And Ready To Welcome Visitors

The tourism board representing Florida says Florida’s again ready to host visitors, although getting there remains a challenge for many of the world’s vacationers as governments continue to bring in restrictions hampering international travel, reports Press Today’s Ian Stalker.

Dana Young, president of Visit Florida, said during Monday’s opening of Florida’s annual tourism show Florida Huddle that her jurisdiction is now able to provide visitors with the very types of vacations Florida is known for.

“We are open and ready to welcome visitors …We are looking forward to seeing you and your customers.” Young said during the launch of the show, being done virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida struggled with coronavirus for much of last year but Young said state beaches, parks, hotels and restaurants are now open, as are such Central Florida theme parks as Disney and Universal, mainstays of the region’s tourist trade.

Florida has opted for a gradual building of its tourist trade, first encouraging state residents to vacation within their own state last summer, and then working to attract those who live within 700 miles of Florida within the fall. That was followed by a decision to reach out to Americans who were in more distant parts of the United States and finally those living outside the United States.

Young said several developments, such as the beginning of coronavirus vaccinations, leave her “very optimistic about the year ahead” for her state’s tourist trade.

But a following panel discussion featuring senior staff from several Florida airports revealed that air service to Florida has been greatly scaled back from points far and wide because of the pandemic. That includes air service from this country, with Stephen Belleme, business development manager at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, reporting that Air Canada is now the only Canadian carrier using his facility.

Prior to the pandemic, the airport was used by multiple Canadian carriers.

“We’re getting hit pretty hard on the Canadian front,” he said.

Other Florida airports have seen a downturn in usage, with viewers being told that Miami’s international airport is now seeing about 60,000 people a day use it, down from around 130,000 before the pandemic.

Florida Huddle is running through the week, and will showcase popular sides to the state’s tourist trade, such as golf. A virtual fam trip is planned for travel agents on Friday.

Next year’s Florida Huddle will be held in Tampa Bay, with Santiago Corrada, president of Visit Tampa Bay, praising his destination as the “most exciting one” in the state, and promised that the upcoming show will be “the reunion we’ve all needed more than ever.”