Thursday, July 19, 2018
Business

Can Florida get Mexican tourists to leave California and Texas behind and visit the Sunshine State?

Florida tourism officials spent the weekend trying to convince travel agents in Mexico City that the Sunshine State is a better destination than their next-door neighbors, California and Texas.

About 20 agencies and businesses made the trip abroad as a part of Florida Huddle Mexico, the first of its kind spin-off of the state's annual travel trade conference.

Florida accommodated 453,000 Mexican visitors in 2015, up 5 percent from 2014, according to the state's tourism arm, Visit Florida. However, Mexico is only the fourth largest source of visitors from Latin America, trailing Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

"We have the dominant position generally in Latin America, but Mexico is an exception," said Visit Florida chief executive William Seccombe. Florida is at a disadvantage, he added, because it is a longer trip than California and Texas.

In the short term, though, he sees potential for a 30 to 40 percent increase in travelers just by filling empty plane seats from Mexico to Florida.

"We can demonstrate success by filling those planes and once we do that we'll be able to expand and attract more flights," Seccombe said.

Related: Tourism continues to thrive in Tampa Bay despite Zika and Brexit, but is it recession-proof?

While there are no direct flights from Mexico to Tampa Bay, the region sent a convoy of representatives from Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, Visit Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport and a handful of hotel and attraction partners, said David Downing, executive director of Pinellas County's tourism agency, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater.

The latest news from Tampa International Airport: Tampa International Airport has landed another international flight: Reykjavik, Iceland

"They mostly fly to Orlando, then they drive to our area," said Ana Fernandez, the agency's Latin American sales director. Until the region has its own direct flight, the trick is marketing in partnership with Orlando and Miami, Downing said.

"We're the thing that's not in Orlando," he said. "We have the beaches and they love how American this destination is."

On average, a Mexican travel party to Florida spends $1,437 on a seven-night vacation, Seccombe said.

Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected] Follow @KnotheA.

Comments
St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Updated: 2 hours ago
OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

CLEARWATER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open inspection into a safety-related incident involving Clearwater-based MagneGas Corp. A federal investigator opened the inquiry into the publicly-traded alternative fuel...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

TAMPA — Winn-Dixie unveiled another remodeled store, the sixth in the area, after promising to remodel much of its chain following its emergence from bankruptcy this year.The made-over store at 805 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. has a host of ne...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

WASHINGTON — Starbucks has more than 8,000 stores nationwide. One of them will soon be run entirely in American Sign Language.Starbucks’ first signing store in the United States will hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners with the r...
Updated: 11 hours ago
State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

TAMPA - State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, says she’s fed up with Florida’s problems with the SunPass tolling system that have persisted since early June.She’s asking the state to address what she referred to as the "gigantic racket" with the following ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Petersburg beef company recalls more than 6,000 pounds of meat

St. Petersburg beef company recalls more than 6,000 pounds of meat

ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg wholesale meat retailer is recalling more than 6,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef because of possible E. coli contamination, the USDA said Thursday.Five products produced by the St. Petersburg-based Ottomanelli Wh...
Updated: 12 hours ago
This week in savings: Best Tampa Bay grocery deals for July 18 - 25

This week in savings: Best Tampa Bay grocery deals for July 18 - 25

It’s a regular occurrence for me: Once a week, I’ll take out all the ads that have been mailed to my house and spread them across my tiny glass table.I grab my scissors for any coupons. Pull up any apps for stores whose ads I didn’t get and laugh at ...
Published: 07/19/18
We asked readers for tips on how to cut down on plastics. Here are 24 ideas they gave us.

We asked readers for tips on how to cut down on plastics. Here are 24 ideas they gave us.

Many of you are passionate about how to cut down on disposable plastics. You lit up our inbox with suggestions that ranged from the everyday — use cloth shopping bags — to the cosmic — get SpaceX founder Elon Musk to build a space ship capable of dep...
Published: 07/19/18
Brink: Sure, forgo straws and shopping bags, but innovation is key to tackling plastic waste

Brink: Sure, forgo straws and shopping bags, but innovation is key to tackling plastic waste

Plastic is found in everything from heart stents to fishing nets to athletic clothing. It extends the shelf life of food and improves the fuel efficiency of planes. Undoubtedly, the wonder product has made our lives easier. Unfortunately, the systems...
Published: 07/19/18
The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

There could soon be a new owner for one of the U.S.’s most iconic Hollywood homes.The house that’s featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch is now up for sale.Its asking price? A cool $1.885 million, the Los Angeles Times reports...
Published: 07/19/18