Thursday, July 19, 2018
Business

Latin American travel conference comes to St. Petersburg for the first time

Nearly 450 operators who work in the travel industry in Latin, Central and South America are about to convene in downtown St. Petersburg for the La Cita de las Americas conference.

Beginning today, those who work in the travel industry, specifically in Latin America and the Caribbean, will participate in a travel industry networking conference at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. This is the first time the conference, which has always taken place in Florida, will be held on the Gulf Coast, said Rick Still, the managing director and founder of La Cita.

The networking event and conference, which is by invitation only, has previously been held in Boca Raton and Miami.

"The focus is that business is personal," said Still, who worked in the tourism industry for several years before founding this conference. "Especially in Latin America, travel and tourism is about relationships."

The three-day conference is where travel industry suppliers, operators, buyers and marketers will meet and make deals, Still said. Visit Florida and Visit St. Pete-Clearwater are supporting the conference, Still said, which has helped draw the largest delegation of tour operators in the conference's history.

"Because of the support of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater and Visit Florida, we're able to host a buyer program at a significantly reduced cost. We've never had this large of a delegation before," Still said.

Previous Coverage: Where are Orlando's beaches? Pinellas tourism pitch urges visitors to head west

Latin American travelers are an important and growing market for Florida's tourism industry. While Canada is still the top international market for tourism in Florida, Brazil was Florida's No. 3 largest international market, followed by Argentina at No. 4, Colombia at No. 5 and Venezuela at No. 8, according to 2016 data from Visit Florida. Latin American travelers are easily some of the biggest vacation spenders too, Still said.

"Sixty-two percent of all travelers coming to the U.S. from Latin America go to Florida," Still said. "You see that in Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They also spend roughly four times as much as Canadians spend while they're here."

While South Florida continues to be the hub of activity for Latin American travelers, Still said Visit St. Pete-Clearwater's investment in attracting this type of international traveler is beginning to pay off.

"We expected to see some attrition when we chose the Vinoy and St. Petersburg" as a host site, he said. "But this region has been aggressive and (Visit St. Pete-Clearwater) has taken their gloves off to go after Latin American business. They're a pioneer in this. And that's why they're the first on the Gulf Coast to host us."

In 2013, Copa Airlines announced it would begin offering nonstop service four times a week to Panama from Tampa International Airport, which opened up Tampa Bay as a gateway to Latin American countries for the first time.

"They're realizing there is a history here that his hip and upscale," he said. "And they're realizing that it's a new product that's only 90 minutes away from something like Orlando and its theme parks."

Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

Comments
Chance the Rapper buys ‘Chicagoist’ website, rapping the news in song

Chance the Rapper buys ‘Chicagoist’ website, rapping the news in song

On Wednesday night, fans of Chance the Rapper were treated to a surprise release of four new singles.The songs, which are available on all streaming platforms, include "Work Out," "Wala Cam," "65th and Ingleside," and "I Might Need Security."But, wit...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
A new design raises hopes for restoring St. Petersburg’s historic YMCA building

A new design raises hopes for restoring St. Petersburg’s historic YMCA building

ST. PETERSBURG — Nick Ekonomou, the South Florida developer who has owned the deteriorating former YMCA building in downtown since 2015, has come up with a potential new design for the historic Mediterranean Revival-style property.The former football...
Published: 07/19/18
Kahwa’s next stop after 10 years in Tampa Bay? Publix

Kahwa’s next stop after 10 years in Tampa Bay? Publix

ST. PETERSBURG — It’s been Kahwa Coffee co-founders Raphael Perrier’s goal from the start.The chain of Tampa Bay coffee shops he opened with his wife has its roots in wholesale — so he dreamed of one day winning over a big distributor to get inside P...
Updated: 4 hours ago
New board members at CareerSource Pinellas press for answers

New board members at CareerSource Pinellas press for answers

CLEARWATER— New board members at a troubled job placement center received a call for oversight Wednesday — something all but absent in recent years at the agency."Question, question, question," said CareerSource Pinellas board chair Jack Geller durin...
Published: 07/18/18
PJs encouraged at Thursday’s Sunrise Sale in St. Pete. Prices go down when the sun comes up.

PJs encouraged at Thursday’s Sunrise Sale in St. Pete. Prices go down when the sun comes up.

The annual Sunrise Sale in St. Petersburg is almost as much of a bargain hunter’s holy grail as Black Friday. For 45 years, shoppers wearing pajamas have headed out at dawn to be in position at their favorite stores the moment the sun rises. That’s w...
Published: 07/18/18
Career Q&A:

Career Q&A:

Q: One of my co-workers is lying about a task she was supposed to complete. "Dawn" is responsible for renewing everyone’s membership in our industry’s professional association. However, last year she had a problem with my password, so I processed the...
Published: 07/18/18
New 35-story condo tower to rise in Tampa’s Channelside area

New 35-story condo tower to rise in Tampa’s Channelside area

TAMPA — A 35-story condo tower with just two units per floor is expected to start construction in the booming Channelside area early next year.Tampa-based Mercury Advisors announced Wednesday that it had obtained construction financing for the $74 mi...
Published: 07/18/18
St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership hires new CEO from Salt Lake City

St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership hires new CEO from Salt Lake City

ST. PETERSBURG — The nonprofit St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership on Wednesday said it has hired Jason Mathis as its new CEO.Mathis has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, including serving as executive director of the Downtown Alliance in S...
Published: 07/18/18
Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Folks who have missed testing their taste buds with a St. Petersburg eatery’s famous inferno soup will get a chance to do so once again.Nitally’s ThaiMex Cuisine, which closed its downtown St. Petersburg location in May, will open soon in a smaller l...
Published: 07/18/18
Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Monday, July 23, is National Hot Dog Day. I don’t know precisely why, but I think some major lobbying from the sausage board was involved. It’s baseball season, it’s barbecue season, it’s I-don’t-feel-like-cooking season. Those are plenty of reasons....
Published: 07/18/18