Advertisement
  1. Business

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

Beginning Tuesday, 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. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
Published Aug. 29, 2017

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 jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning owner and financier Jeff Vinik told investors in a letter Tuesday that he is closing Vinik Asset Management, the hedge fund he relaunched earlier this year. (Times files)
    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner and longtime financier announced the decision to close Vinik Asset Management in a letter to investors on Wednesday.
  2. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. Courtesy of David Partridge
    The husband-and-wife team that founded St. Petersburg’s Partridge Animal Hospital were known for their compassion and kindness to all creatures great and small.
  3. The lobby bar at the Current Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa serves eclectic cocktails and locally brewed coffee. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Take a look inside Tampa Bay’s newest boutique hotel.
  4. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
  5. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.
  6. Former WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree, shown here with his wife Tree, filed a lawsuit Friday against his former employer alleging he was fired because of age discrimination and retaliation. [Times file] WTSP  |  FACEBOOK
    The suit comes after a federal agency took no action on age discrimination complaints he had filed.
  7. Guests of the Flying Bridge at the Tradewinds Resort, which is now under new ownership. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    The new owner says he plans to keep its management and 1,100 employees.
  8. The University of South Florida has earned national accolades for its push to raise graduation rates. Student loan debt in Florida is so crushing that it makes it hard to afford a house.
    Staggering debt loads make it hard to buy a home.
  9. The “nakation” — aka clothing-optional tourism — is becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. Shirking that outer layer at nude beaches and resorts and even on clothing-optional cruises has become the vacation choice du jour for hundreds of thousands of free-spirited Americans. AP Photo/Caleb Jones
    It’s certainly bringing in big bucks in Florida, where the state’s tourism department reports that nude recreation made a $7.4 billion economic impact in the Sunshine State last year.
  10. Bay area gas prices increased by double digits since last week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Pictured is a man in St. Petersburg filling up in 2017. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times (2017)] SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Oil refineries’ seasonal maintenance, as well as wholesale gas prices, pushed prices higher.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement