Gov. Scott Meets with International Airline Executives and Tour Operators during Economic Development Mission to France

Governor Rick Scott today met with international airline executives and tour operators to discuss ways to increase travel to Florida along with job opportunities for families in the Sunshine State. Tourism is Florida’s number one industry and VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing organization – 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 eight 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.

Governor Scott said, “Florida is the number one tourist destination in the world, and we are ideally positioned to be a global hub for business. Florida has had two consecutive years of record visitation to Florida, which 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.”

Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA said, “In today’s highly competitive global travel marketplace, VISIT FLORIDA and our industry partners are focused on increasing international airline service to the state. With the value of every new flight we add, generating nearly $800,000 weekly in revenue for the economy, we appreciate Governor Scott’s efforts to help promote the Sunshine State as the number one travel destination in the world.”

More than 90 million people visited Florida last year, and to continue to attract even more visitors to the Sunshine State, VISIT FLORIDA is committed to attracting airline partners to add new international routes to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA recently 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 participation at airline shows.

“These carriers and tour operators have global options available to them when choosing new routes for their passengers,” said Eileen Forrow, VISIT FLORIDA’s Vice President of Marketing and Events. “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.”

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.

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.”

Joseph Mohan, Senior Vice President of Sales and Planning with Copa Airlines

“Florida is a significant market for Copa Airlines, so the opportunity to meet with Governor Scott and tourism officials from around the state is pivotal to expanding and growing our presence in this important destination.”

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 Governor Scott and Visit Florida’s focus on pro-business policies that enable us and our partners to expand in Florida. We also 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 proven itself the firm favorite with our clients and we thank Governor Scott for this chance to discuss further expansion of our options in Florida.”

Reg Mendes, Vice President USA Division with Sunwing Travel Group

“Canadians love Florida, and with Sunwing delivering the largest growth of all Canadian operators last winter, it is important to have an opportunity like the Paris Air Show where we can formulate strategies to maintain that momentum. Governor Scott is always looking for opportunities where companies can invest in Florida business, and we look forward to continuing to grow in the Sunshine State.”

 

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