Headlines from VISIT FLORIDA…2013/14 News

Headlines from VISIT FLORIDA

Win a trip to Florida’s Space Coast

Florida’s Space Coast has it all: the closest beaches to Orlando; the unique Kennedy Space Centre experience with its new $100-million Atlantis space shuttle exhibit and more than 60 other interactive exhibits; plus vibrant Port Canaveral, which is more than just a cruise port, featuring brand new retail, restaurants, and entertainment area. Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism and its partners want you discover what all the fuss is about by offering the chance for one lucky travel (and companion) to visit. The winner will receive rround-trip tickets for two on Delta Airlines from Toronto or Montreal to Melbourne, Fla., compliments of Melbourne Orlando International Airport; seven days/six nights at a Space Coast beachfront hotel; two KSCVC Space Passes (incl. entrance, lunch with an astronaut, and more); two passes to Brevard Zoo and Tree Top Trek Zipline (named one of top 10 small zoos in the US by TripAdvisor); Victory Casino Lines complimentary boarding and buffet for two; plus a surf lesson for two from Ron Jon Surf School. Some blackout dates may apply and taxes and fees extra.


Simply answer the following question – What is the closest beach area to Orlando? at: http://promo.baxter.net/contest/spacecoastflorida.asp or fax this ballot to 416-968-2377.
Deadline to enter is Dec. 20, 2013.

This Month’s Headlines

VISIT FLORIDA re-energizes state’s premier travel trade show
November 7, 2013 – Florida’sworld-renowned theme parks in Orlando will return in 2014 to the state’s premier travel trade show, Florida Huddle, now owned and operated by VISIT FLORIDA.

The expanded, redesigned show, set for Jan. 14-16, 2014, in Palm Beach County, is gaining new and former participants enthused about revised platforms allowing buyers and suppliers to schedule their meetings earlier and more effectively than ever before — a popular improvement implemented by VISIT FLORIDA.

Will Seccombe, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO, announced recently that Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando will all be participating in Florida Huddle for the first time in several years. “With our reinvention of Florida Huddle, we’re proud to welcome back these three Strategic Alliance Partners to help showcase Florida to the world,” Seccombe said.

Since acquiring the trade show last year, VISIT FLORIDA has been assembling new functionality to better serve the needs of buyers, suppliers and travel media.
Key points about VISIT FLORIDA’s Florida Huddle:

  • Expanded opportunities for appointments, allowing two full days of one-on-one meetings between buyers and suppliers
  • Scheduling of appointments to begin weeks earlier than in years past, for more effective planning
  • New platform for media to schedule appointments with buyers and suppliers
  • Increased attention to niche buyers, such as destination weddings and incentive travel
  • State-of-the-art conference site at the Palm Beach County Convention Center
  • Full range of digital and support services provided by VISIT FLORIDA

Opening night festivities at The Breakers Palm Beach, a Florida icon built by tycoon Henry Flagler, father of Florida tourism For more information about Florida Huddle 2014, visit: www.FloridaHuddle.com 
Visit Orlando campaigns in Canada
Visit Orlando will launch an integrated marketing campaign in Ontario and Quebec this fall. The multifaceted campaign will include television, digital, radio and print advertising, promotions, publicity and partnerships with tourism operators. Historically, Visit Orlando campaigns have focused on the Ontario market, where a high percentage of Orlando’s Canadian visitors reside. Recognizing the growth potential and interest from Quebec consumers, Visit Orlando will expand its efforts in 2013 with a targeted advertising campaign in Quebec. For the first time ever, Visit Orlando will run French Canadian advertising on Quebec television, radio and online. The expanded efforts in Quebec are in addition to longstanding programs and partnerships with travel trade partners and publicity efforts. “The new campaign will reinforce the appeal of Orlando as a travel destination for all Canadians and assist our trade partners with generating more business from our No. 1 international market,” said Visit Orlando president George Aguel. The Ontario campaign, beginning Nov. 4 and running through Dec. 31, will drive consumers to VisitOrlando.ca. Orlando’s web site offers detailed information for itinerary planning, links to tour operator partners and the latest travel offers. The Quebec campaign, kicking off Oct. 14 and concluding Dec. 8, will drive to a refreshed French Canadian site VisitOrlando.com/Quebec, offering tailored information for Quebec travellers. In addition to the campaign, travel agents in Canada have a new and improved resource to boost their knowledge of the destination. Orlando Travel Academy (www.orlandotravelacademy.com) is an online education tool designed to increase travel agents’ knowledge of Orlando and help them provide value to their clients. Upon completion of the program, Orlando Travel Academy graduates receive the designation of “Orlando Travel Expert,” as well as earn two credits from the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. (www.VisitOrlando.com/trade
Holiday fun in SeaWorld
Waves of holiday spirit splash over SeaWorld during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. In a “wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy loads of frosty fun as they watch stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express Experience, then share a smile with a playful penguin at the South Pole while visiting the park’s newest attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin!” Christmas carols can be heard as guests encounter a sparkling Sea Of Trees and skaters dancing on ice. With everything from Santa to Shamu, presents to penguins, and elves to Elmo, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is “where the season meets the sea.” Events take place on select dates Nov. 23 through December and are included with park admission. The best way for families to experience all the shows, lights and fun this season is with a SeaWorld Getaway. Those who visit SeaWorldGetAways.com can choose from a variety of getaway values, including a “Buy 2 Nights, Get 1 Free” package. Each paid ticket with this package includes a Quick-Queue-Unlimited wristband good for “front-of-the-line” access to SeaWorld’s newest attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, and a meal voucher valid at participating SeaWorld restaurants. Plus, those who stay two nights at one of SeaWorld Parks & Resorts’ official hotels get the third night free. (www.SeaWorldOrlando.com
Bringing Keys’ underwater world to light
Visitors to Key West can experience the Florida Keys’ undersea wonders at night during “Nightboarding” excursions by stand-up paddleboard or two-person clear-bottom kayak. Launched by Ibis Bay Beach Resort in Key West, Nightboarding uses waterproof LED light bars to light up the water. During each excursion, participants paddle through areas including mangrove island rookeries that are home to ibis, herons, pelicans and their fledglings. Those interested are encouraged to book in advance. (www.ibisbayresort.com

The Insider

Jodi Mailander Farrell

Eight places to make you dance

So you think you can dance?
You’ll never truly know until you’ve tried salsa in Miami, shagged in Tampa Bay and waltzed in West Palm Beach. One of the best ways to explore Florida’s diverse places is to boogie woogie with their people. Dance is a universal language that conveys more about a place’s culture in a single hip thrust than a traveller’s guide can deliver in 100 pages. Florida dance schools and clubs welcome short-term visitors. They’re eager to teach you their moves. Here’s where to hustle with the best of them.

Salsa clubs are a fun way to explore Florida’s most Latin city, and Salsa Kings Dance Studios has multiple locations to help you find your eight-count rhythm in Cuban. One-hour classes spend part of the time divided into levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced), so you never have to feel overwhelmed or bored. Instructors are certified by the World Salsa Federation; group and private lessons are available. One group lesson is $10. Classes are offered at Florida International University, 1600 SW 107 Ave., in Miami, and IronFlower Fitness gym at 7300 Biscayne Blvd., also in Miami, with two new locations in South Miami and Florida City opening soon. Info: 888.40.SALSA, www.thesalsakings.com.

Bachata is an Afro-Latino genre of music and dance that originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 20th Century with African descendants in rural areas. Simple yet sensuous, it’s an eight-beat dance, similar to salsa. Orlando, which has seen its Hispanic population grow from just 4 percent in 1980 to more than 25 percent in 2010, now has one of the largest Dominican communities in the state, along with Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Bahhari Dance Center, 8865 Commodity Circle, in Orlando, is the hot spot to learn how, with classes averaging 35 to 50 students at a time, led by two teachers. No need to bring a partner; students rotate around the room so everyone gets the opportunity to dance together. A single class is $10. Info: 321-396-2399, sensualbachata.com.

Cowboy town. That’s Davie, where the rodeo is the center of life, the mayor is a former barrel racer and it’s not unusual to see residents riding around on their horses. If you want to dance with the locals, get in line. Learn how at Round Up, one of the area’s best dance clubs and country bars at 9020 W. State Road 84, where there are free line dancing lessons for urban cowboys Wednesday through Sunday. (There’s a $5 cover charge at the door for ages 21 and older). Boot Scootin’ Boogie beginners are welcome. Info: 954-423-1990, www.roundupnightclub.com.

American Smooth, International Standard, the Viennese Waltz and Quickstep – all the elegant moves can be found in classic Palm Beach County, home to the Annual Palm Beach Dance Challenge, held every October. You can practice your own moves for “Dancing With the Stars” at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. The school, at 4603 Okeechobee Blvd., in West Palm Beach offers private lessons, group sessions and “practice parties.” Two sessions are $20. Info: 561-478-1400, www.fredastairewpb.com.

Swing dance came at us out of the jazz age in the 1920s, with African-American communities delivering the Lindy Hop, which fuses jazz, tap and Charleston, and white communities bringing us the Foxtrot and the Balboa. Every major city has its own style. Discover Tampa’s West Coast Swing at Gulfport Casino Swing Night. The retro-era, waterfront ballroom, at 5500 Shore Blvd. South, in Gulfport, near St. Petersburg, offers one-hour swing dance lessons at 6 p.m. before the party starts at 7 p.m. most Wednesdays. Admission is $7; no partner needed. Info: 813-840-3715, www.swingtime.info/gcsn.html.

Beach Bop is a laid-back, southern adaptation of the old Jitterbug that they call Shag in the Carolinas, Lindy in the North and Whip or Push in the Mid-West. All of the dances have similar eight-count steps to six beats of music. In Jacksonville, the music of choice is “Beach Music” or R&B, the kind produced by black musicians and found in jukeboxes at the beach in the 1950s. The 300-member Florida Boppers dance club here has been bopping together since 1989. The club hosts parties on the second Saturday of every month at Club Savoy, 6354 Arlington Rd., from 8 p.m. to midnight. You can also find them dancing there most Thursday and Friday nights. Door fee is $10 for non-members. Info: 904-215-1613, clubsavoyatjax.com.

Allemande left and do-si-do on your way to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and meet up with the Space Trackers Square Dance Club, which meets most Thursdays at the Merritt Island Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 155 Cone Road. The group offers square dance lessons at 6:30 p.m. prior to its 8 p.m. dance. Info: 321-427-7950, www.spacetrackers.com.

More than 45 percent of the people in this South Florida city are Hispanic. You can find evidence of Hollywood’s Argentina community at local bakeries, restaurants, markets – and at the International Club of Argentine Tango of South Florida, which hosts one-hour dance lessons followed by a tango party, “Buenos Aires Milonga,” every Sunday night. The lessons and party, along with a dinner buffet, are held at 7 p.m. at the Italian-American Club, 700 S. Dixie Hwy. Admission is $15. Men and women of all ages, nationalities and ethnicities pour into the banquet hall to learn and practice their Argentine tango, which has a different rhythmic pattern from American tango, with couples dancing cheek-to-cheek and chest-to-chest. Info: 305-345-3662, www.citango.com.

According to preliminary numbers released by VISIT FLORIDA, 23.4 million visitors came to Florida in the second quarter of 2013 (April-June), an increase of 2.6% over the same period in 2012, making Q2 2013 the largest second quarter for visitation in the state’s history. Through the first half of 2013, Florida welcomed 49.6 million visitors – an increase of 4.2%. Visitor spending in Florida for January-May 2013 (last reported month) was $33.2 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of 5.5% from the same period in 2012. An estimated 19.7 million domestic visitors came to Florida during the second quarter of 2013, representing a 1.6% increase from the same period in 2012. Florida welcomed 2.7 million overseas visitors in Q2 2013 representing a 9.3% increase over Q2 2012, and one million Canadian visitors during the same period represent a 4.9% increase.  As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves nearly 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including 2,700 invested Partners, 8,900 web affiliates and major strategic alliance partnerships with Disney Destinations, Dollar Rent A Car, The Hertz Corporation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Universal Orlando. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, please go to www.VISITFLORIDA.org or www.VISITFLORIDA.com or follow our corporate blog at www.SunshineMatters.org.