Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Column: Marketing to foreign travelers vital to Tampa Bay

Visitors to Clearwater Beach settle into the sand, a reminder of the value of tourism, particularly international tourism, to Tampa Bay and Florida. [Times files]
Visitors to Clearwater Beach settle into the sand, a reminder of the value of tourism, particularly international tourism, to Tampa Bay and Florida. [Times files]
Published Jun. 12

During the recent Legislative session in Tallahassee, travel and tourism was at the forefront of discussions – and rightfully so. As an industry, tourism is integral to the continued economic success of our state. Our elected officials at all levels of government should be doing all they can to maximize the jobs and revenue tourism brings to Florida. Tampa Bay's tourism industry commends state leaders for supporting Visit Florida. Now it's time for their counterparts in the U.S. Congress to do their part.

Travel and tourism leaders across the Tampa Bay region met in May with U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) to discuss how federal officials can protect and grow travel. Rep. Bilirakis has proven himself an ally and champion for our industry, most recently leading the way to secure funding for Brand USA, the national tourism marketing agency that Visit Tampa Bay has worked closely with for many years. It is critical that Florida's congressional delegation follow his lead and offer their support for this important organization.

Created in 2010, Brand USA is a public-private partnership that promotes U.S. destinations to travelers in markets around the globe. International visitors are the most lucrative guests we can welcome; they spend more and stay longer than domestic visitors. But they can also be some of the hardest to reach. Last year, Hillsborough County welcomed nearly 500,000 visitors from abroad who spent, on average, nearly 10 times more than U.S. visitors per person – an economic impact that far outstrips their portion of our 23 million visitors a year.

Brand USA partnerships allow Visit Tampa Bay to reach these markets and launch marketing initiatives we would not be able to do on our own. This year alone, we have worked with Brand USA to reach key travel markets in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, among others. We also added the treasures of Tampa Bay to Brand USA's Global Inspirations campaign, reaching audiences across the globe through print and digital articles featuring eye-catching imagery from here in Florida's Most dynamic destination.

In an ever-expanding global travel marketplace, Tampa Bay and Florida compete fiercely to stay top-of-mind with visitors or we will lose out to other destinations. Brand USA helps make that possible. Most importantly, it works. Every dollar Brand USA spends on marketing returns $32 to the U.S. economy. Since 2013, Brand USA's efforts have added 52,000 new jobs each year and generated $6.2 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. Visit Tampa Bay's return on investment is more than double that – a bang-for-the-buck our community would be loath to lose.

Brand USA is funded through a fee on in-bound international travel and private contributions. Even as it drives serious economic growth for Tampa Bay and destinations across Florida, its future reauthorization and funding are in question. This creates an uncertain future that could hurt the economy both here and elsewhere. We cannot afford to lose Brand USA. Tampa Bay's travel industry urges Florida's entire congressional delegation to join Rep. Bilirakis and make this a top priority. There is simply too much at risk for us all.

Santiago Corrada is president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This photo provided by Time magazine shows Greta Thunberg, who has been named Time’s youngest “person of the year” on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.   The media franchise said Wednesday on its website that Thunberg is being honored for work that transcends backgrounds and borders.  (Time via AP) [AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  2. A look at major newspapers' editorials on impeachment [Tampa Bay Times]
    A round-up of excerpts of editorials from across America.
  3. Election day at the Coliseum for St. Petersburg municipal elections. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida should make it easier, not harder, for voters in 2020, writes a new Florida State graduate.
  4. The manuscript of Florida's constitution from 1885. The current version was revised and ratified in 1968. [Florida Memory]
    The governor wants to give a civics test to high school students. He should aim higher and require one of state lawmakers.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks Thursday during the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The House has enough reason to justify the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
  6. House Judiciary Committee session during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, Pool) [JOSE LUIS MAGANA  |  AP]
    There is a reason Republicans continue to embrace debunked conspiracy theories over Ukraine and the 2016 election, writes a columnist.
  7. Connor Lovejoy, 12, (center left) is pictured with his grandmother Cathy Lovejoy, 57, (center right) who legally adopted him, Coco (left) his therapy dog, Loki, who is a trained service dog (right) and a new kitten named Weasley (center). Connor is diagnosed with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, intermittent explosive disorder, oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The boy has been taken for mental health evaluations in the back of a police cruiser under Florid'a Baker Act more times than his grandmother can remember. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    Too often, the decisions are being made by officers without proper training and without notifying parents first.
  8. Ukraine Nazi concentration camp survivor Petro Mischtschuk, 78 years old, kneels with a red rose in his hand in front of the camp entrance at the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar, eastern Germany, in April 2005. [JENS MEYER  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Friday’s letters to the editor.
  9. We asked readers the eternal question in polls on Facebook and Twitter. Here are the results.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement