Visit Orlando’s Canadian Sunshine Tour comes to Toronto

Last night (Dec. 6), Visit Orlando’s Canadian Sunshine Tour made a stop in Toronto, where roughly 300 travel advisors gathered to take part in an informative marketplace.

Beginning in Calgary, Alta. on Dec. 3, Visit Orlando’s 2023 Canadian Sunshine Tour saw impressive travel advisor turnouts in both cities. The tour concludes this evening (Dec. 7) in Halifax, N.S. The tour provided an opportunity for travel advisors to learn about all aspects of the destination through engaging educational sessions.

“Canada remains our number one international market, with the U.K. coming in second,” said Elaine Blazys, vice-president of travel industry sales, Visit Orlando. “With the lift, which has grown considerably, we’re looking to have our visitor arrivals back to over one million.”

More flights, more tourists

WestJet representatives were also in attendance for the Canadian Sunshine Tour. In October of this year, WestJet resumed its service to Orlando from St. John’s, N.S. To date, there are 14 non-stop flights to Orlando from Canada. Non-stop service from WestJet includes routes via Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Regina, Saskatoon, Halifax, and St. Johns.

According to Madeleine Brydon, product manager, WestJet Vacations, visitation to Orlando is currently 13.2 per cent above its 2019 numbers for Orlando International Airport. “We’re seeing the increased capacity come as a result of a shift towards people gathering in large numbers again, whether that’s multigenerational travellers or groups,” she says.

One of the most attractive selling points for WestJet is its non-stop Vancouver to Orlando route, Brydon shares. “It’s one of the longest haul flights that we have, and as the largest transborder market in the world, being Canada and the U.S., it gives us a bit more visibility, showing that we go the extra mile and have that demand, because those flights are always full,” Brydon says, noting that in the past, Western Canadians often went to great lengths to enjoy an Orlando vacation.

“It’s really exciting to have those western-originating routes in relation to the Ontario market, where there’s such an oversaturation from so many different carriers,” Brydon says.

Inflation, combined with currency exchange and market spend have Canadian travellers more focused on seeking out exceptional vacations with a solid value proposition. “When you compare an Orlando vacation package to another destination that might have all-inclusive components versus a la carte, we really need to consider things that are unique, or incorporate true value for our guests to make it more attractive,” Brydon says.

New hotels & resorts in Orlando

In anticipation of added lift and an increase in visitor arrivals, several new hotels, resorts, and accommodations have opened in Orlando. Vacation homes, Brydon notes, are quickly becoming one of the most popular options for travellers to Orlando.

“We’re looking for more of that premiere, luxury vacation home that will combat the silver and platinum, so to speak,” she says, noting that WestJet Vacations is currently the only Canadian tour operator to work with Alexander Vacation Homes, which offers fully equipped vacation home rentals near the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and Sea World.

With fully-equipped kitchens, private pools and no resort fees, vacation homes are ideal for larger groups, and also provide value for money, which is what many Canadian travellers continue to seek out.

“In eastern Orlando, there are more than 20,000 vacation rental properties and growing,” Brydon says. “We’re concentrating around the quality and the functionality, and partnerships are prime.”

The following new hotels have recently opened in Orlando:

Evermore Orlando Resort

Opening late 2023, Evermore Orlando Resort offers an array of stays, from single homes and villas to flats.

Conrad Orlando

A new build, the Conrad Orlando features 433 rooms, including 51 regular suites and 10 spacious family suites. A spa, numerous dining options and a signature rooftop experience also await.

Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando

The newest official Walt Disney World partner hotel, Drury Plaza opened in February 2023. It offers complimentary hot breakfasts, shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World theme parks and more.

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