Make us your home page

Tourism officials focus marketing efforts overseas to attract visitors on new flights to Zurich

As Tampa International Airport celebrates its first new European service in 15 years, tourism officials here are working hard to make the flights a big a deal over there.

That's because they expect most of the passengers on the twice weekly round trips to Zurich to come from Switzerland and Germany.

To lure them, tourism and economic development agencies have kicked in about $800,000 to promote the flights on Edelweiss Air. That has bought, among other things, 300 billboards scattered around Switzerland and Germany promoting Tampa Bay.

And the travel website Expedia will offer Europeans vacation packages to the bay area.

The inaugural flight arrives Friday evening, and the airport will welcome the first passengers with a Swiss- and beach-themed celebration in the main terminal.

"It's really a team effort, and everybody is working together to make sure (the flight) is successful," said airport spokeswoman Janet Zink.

Tampa International is giving Edelweiss $500,000 in cash and fee waivers over two years. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater will contribute $140,000 to promote the flights in Switzerland over the same period. Tampa Bay & Co., Hillsborough County's quasi-public tourism agency, kicked in $60,000.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce offered free event sponsorships and event promotions valued at $175,000.

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. scripted a two-year business recruitment plan and will help Edelweiss pay to carry it out.

"This is a big push and we want to make sure that there is a big splash," said Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The Edelweiss Air flights, with a capacity of about 300 passengers, are scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer, and only on Fridays throughout the winter. The flights are estimated to bring in about $32 million in annual economic benefit and create about 265 jobs in Tampa Bay.

Aviation consultant Michael Boyd called the new service "vacation flights," since the majority of passengers will begin their trips in Zurich rather than Tampa. The popularity of the new flights will depend on the popularity of the vacation packages offered in Europe.

"It all has to do with vacation traffic," Boyd said.

D.T. Minich, the executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, who is in Zurich now and will arrive back in Tampa on the inaugural flight, said his organization has been working closely with Expedia, Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency and Brand USA, the federal organization that encourages more travel to the United States, to put together vacation packages for visitors.

Sixty-five of the passengers on Friday's flight will be travel agents from Germany, Italy and Switzerland, who will have the opportunity to visit all of the bay area's major attractions.

"This is huge for us," Minich said. "We really want them to experience all the area has to offer."

Officials at Tampa International have been working hard to boost the airport's anemic number of international flights. The airport's first airline incentives program was created with the arrival of CEO Joe Lopano about 18 months ago.

Including the Edelweiss flights, TIA boasts just 34 international flights a week. Orlando International and Orlando Sanford International, the airport's closest neighbors of comparable size, combined offer more than 200.

That makes this flight to Zurich all the more sweet to Tampa International.

Now, the airport just needs passengers to buy tickets.

"There is nothing that will have an airline withdraw its service faster than poor passenger volumes and poor revenue numbers," said Stuart Klaskin, an aviation consultant in Miami.

Edelweiss Air

Edelweiss Air flights are scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer, and only on Fridays throughout the winter. A basic fare in July costs about $1,236, compared to the $1,312 for the daily British Airways flight from London to Tampa.

Headquarters: Zurich

Founded: Oct.19, 1995

Fleet: Six planes

Destinations: 50

Tourism officials focus marketing efforts overseas to attract visitors on new flights to Zurich 05/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass


    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  2. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America


    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]
  3. Brooksville's popular Florida Cracker Kitchen aims at statewide expansion


    BROOKSVILLE — Florida Cracker Kitchen's inverted cowboy boot logo — seemingly plastered on every pickup truck in Hernando County — may someday be just as ubiquitous across the state.

    Shrimp and grits is a signature dish at Florida Cracker Kitchen, which plans to open more restaurants in the state.
  4. Alison Barlow named director to spur creative economy, jobs of St. Pete Innovation District

    Economic Development

    After an extensive search, the recently created St. Pete Innovation District now has its first executive director. Alison Barlow on Thursday was named to the position in which she will help recruit and facilitate a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns …

    Alison Barlow has been named the first executive director of the recently created St. Pete Innovation District, a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Poynter Institute to SRI International and the USF College of Marine Science, among many other organizations. Barlow, who most recently served as manager of the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, starts her new job June 16.[Photo courtesy of LinkedIn]
  5. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]