More than 200 international tour companies and top tourism decision-makers will descend on Orlando from Feb. 18 to 20 for a new travel industry show developed by Connect, a leader in meetings, events, travel and tourism. The Connect Travel Marketplace will take place at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, located on International Drive in the heart of Orlando's tourism sector.

The new leisure tourism division of Connect, Connect Travel, is bringing together thought leaders, decision-makers and destination marketers to create and brand new products and form partnerships. "We want to focus on creating new products within North American destinations," said Shari Bailey, international sales director for Connect Travel.

For Connect Travel, Orlando was the ideal destination within the U.S. to host the show. "When you think of top leisure destinations, and where international tour companies are doing business, Orlando comes to mind," said Bailey.

The show provides an opportunity for hotels, resorts, attractions, transportation companies, destination CVBs and others to develop new products and make plans to push them into the marketplace.

Because the trade show will take place in Orlando, the Florida delegation is the best-represented of all. More than 50 Florida travel and tourism brands will be represented, including Merlin Entertainment, Visit Sarasota County, Wyndham Hotel Group and Westgate Resorts.

In addition to connecting travel and tourism brands, there will be a robust education component to the event, as well, Bailey said. "We will have destination experts discussing trends in their regions and how they are tackling international marketing to grow their visitation," she said. "There will also be experts from MasterCard to inform us on how to utilize data to drive business."

Other timely topics, like strategies for appealing to the Chinese market and how to market to travel influencers, will be discussed in education sessions, as well.

Tour operators and travel brands from the U.K., Germany, Canada, Brazil and Mexico are expected to attend, along with the 34 tour operators attending from China. 

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