Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: September 19, 2001

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES will drop Daytona Beach and Melbourne from its schedule before Oct. 1 because of the need to reduce service in light of post-terrorism financial challenges. Both Florida airports, served out of Newark, had been struggling to attract scheduled services for the past few years.

THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER Visitor Complex reopened this past Sunday, with most programs and exhibits operating. In addition, only one of the two visitor gates (State Road 405, Titusville) is open because of security concerns. According to Dan LeBlanc, director of marketing for the complex's operating concern, Delaware North Park Services, the attraction at this time of year averages 3,000 to 4,000 visitors per day -- about 500 of them in tour groups. The complex had been closed since Sept. 11.

VISIT FLORIDA, the Orlando-Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Florida Keys Tourist Development Council suspended some or all of their advertising efforts. Bud Nocera, Visit Florida's executive vice president and chief operating officer, deemed the current Great Moments, Great Vacations ad effort (print and broadcast) inappropriate "in light of the uncertainties of travel," following last's week's terror attacks. Peter Cranis, the Orlando bureau's vice president of consumer marketing, said that "for the next several weeks" its national cable ads would cease. They sought a response from consumers for discounts and information. The bureau will meet with hotel and attraction officials to determine "our next steps," Cranis said. Greater Miami, which gets 95% of its visitors by air, will consider what type of promotion is feasible some time after the U.S. begins retaliatory attacks, and air service is stable, David Whitaker, senior vice president of marketing, said. Greater Fort Lauderdale may consider a drive-market ad effort as a stop-gap, according to Nicki Grossman, president, who remained confident that traditional business would return later in the year. The Florida Keys postponed a U.K. campaign from November to January and will be beefing up its in-state and southeast drive-market efforts, Harold Wheeler, TDC director, said.

THE OPRYLAND HOTEL & Convention Center, which is set to open in Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 2, began accepting individual reservations at its new res center -- (407) 586-2000. In addition, it soon will take public and agent bookings on line as well at www.oprylandflorida.com. The 1,406-room resort, owned by Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment, occupies 63 acres and will have 400,000 square feet of convention, meeting, exhibition and pre-function space.

IN PENSACOLA, the National Museum of Naval Aviation unveiled a Blue Angels flight simulator ride, whereby visitors will experience the maneuvers they have seen from the ground. The Blue Angels team is based in Pensacola. For museum information, call (800) 327-5002.

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