Florida prepares for increasing competition


MIAMI -- Austin Mott, president and chief executive officer of Visit Florida, said the state continues to face increasing competition, both domestic and from abroad.

Mott's remarks were made to a record 940 members of Florida's tourism industry at the 33rd annual Governor's Conference on Tourism here.

To meet the challenges, Florida will identify and target more niche markets, including the African-American and Hispanic-American travel markets, he said.

In the latter markets, Visit Florida will begin frequent tracking of Hispanic-American travel to the state in order to gauge the effectiveness of new marketing programs.

Visit Florida is the public-private partnership that is in its fourth year of promoting tourism to Florida.

After a year in which the state was host to a record of nearly 50 million visitors, Visit Florida executives said they expected to set another record this year.

Agency officials said last year's advertising campaign, mounted by Fahlgren Benito of Tampa, Fla., would be continued but expanded in scope.

The ad schedule through next June includes consumer travel and general interest publications as well as those read by African-Americans, Hispanics and Europeans (such as those in the U.K. and Germany).

Last year, Visit Florida's budget reached $14.2 million in advertising equivalency value, according to the agency, involving regional, national and international media outlets.

Visit Florida officials estimate that their own budget is matched sevenfold by industry-contributed products.

The domestic campaign includes Florida's top 29 origin markets as well as regional drive markets and the in-state market. Basically, all of these markets are east of the Mississippi River.

Nature-heritage tourism is another major focus that will play an increasingly important role in the state's promotional efforts, he said.

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