Discover the Palm Beaches president and CEO Jorge Pesquera says the tourism corporation is stepping up efforts to attract more tourists from the UK market, writes Emily Eastman.
The Florida region – located strategically between Orlando and Miami – offers an interesting alternative to the state’s other popular destinations, holding the title of ‘Florida’s Cultural Capital’ and delivering on art galleries, theatre and gastronomy. The destination remains hugely popular among keen golfers, too, who arrive from around the world to lower their handicap in Florida’s golf capital. It also boasts good air connections along the US eastern seaboard, making it an easy addition to US itineraries.
Visitor numbers were up 9% year-on-year in the first half of 2018, but Discover the Palm Beaches is keen to boost this figure further. To do so, it’s working with travel agents on FAM trips in the near-term and continuing on a campaign drive – last year, it ran an agent competition to win tickets to SunFest, a musical and arts extravaganza and it works closely with Visit Florida. The organisation is also increasing its presence across social media and fully implementing a training programme for travel operators.
A string of new hotels are under construction to accommodate the anticipated increase in guests, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Boca Raton, which is slated to open in 2020. Many hotels also cater to the growing MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector, which Pesquera credits for the “tremendous increase in group room night [bookings]”.
“We’ve been targeting the UK market for many years, but we have stepped up our efforts with the signing of a contract with Hills Balfour [to lead our UK trade and PR strategy],” says Pesquera. “We’ve made a commitment to stay in the UK market for the foreseeable future.”