Visit Florida has revealed its UK marketing spend will rise by 45% in 2018, and issued reassurance to the UK trade in the wake of a funding scandal which threatened to cut its overall budget by two thirds.
The tourism body will launch a $2 million winter marketing campaign, running from January to March 2018, to drive demand from the northwest of England, with digital and broadcast advertising on Heart Radio in Manchester, Liverpool and London, and calls to action to book through an online travel agent. Last year’s radio campaign only ran in the capital.
The campaign accounts for half of its $4 million UK budget, part of an international marketing allowance of $11 million.
Visit Florida has been embroiled in a funding row – which led to a bill threatening to cut its $76 million budget to just $25 million, though this was later overturned – following a controversial $1 million contract with rapper Pitbull to promote the state on social media and through a Florida-based music video.
Visit Florida chief executive, Ken Lawson, said: “We had a little bit of turbulence, but we’re now fully funded and we’re putting more money into marketing than ever. What matters to us is the UK market.
“Instead of focusing on every country in the world, we’re focusing on key markets by cutting $12 million in sponsorship and putting that money into marketing.”
The UK and Ireland was Florida’s second-biggest source market in 2016, with 1.7 million British visitors and just under 200,000 Irish travellers visiting the sunshine state.
Next year’s trade activity will focus on promoting lesser-visited parts of Florida including the Panhandle, Daytona Beach and Sarasota on tour operator and agent fam trips, and on trips before and after trade show Florida Huddle.
Lawson added: “We have a big, diverse state and we’re glad if people are coming to the traditional markets, but to ensure they have a great experience, we want to show them the rest of Florida.”
He added that the Florida Keys had reopened to tourists following Hurricane Irma, with most accommodation and attractions welcoming guests again, and thanked the trade for a positive response following the natural disaster.
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