Daytona airport is to receive international flights for the first time in more than 16 years, sparking the possibility of direct routes from the UK.

Canadian low-cost airline Sunwing will operate twice-weekly flights from Toronto from January 24, 2019.

In the past 18 months Daytona has welcomed several hotel brands including Hard Rock Cafe, Hilton and Marriott, with a new 501-room hotel and conference centre currently under construction. A $400 million expansion to the Daytona International Speedway was completed back in February.

Alfredo Gonzalez, founding partner of the AH Hospitality Group, representing the airport, told Travel Weekly at a pre-World Travel Market lunch in London: “Years ago I said my goal was to get Daytona airport onto the international market, but many said this couldn’t be done due to its small size. This new partnership with Sunwing opens up Daytona to a world of opportunity and brings us a step closer to securing flights to Daytona from the UK.”

He added: “As Daytona is a secondary airport, we hope to create connections with secondary airports in the UK, like Luton, and open up Daytona to a whole new audience, but for this to happen we need operators and agents to get on board to showcase what the city has to offer.”

Kevin Brett, managing director of HAT Tourism Marketing, which represents Daytona, added: “The new international flights between Daytona and Canada opens up a lot of possibilities, as Daytona is the perfect proximity for cruises and for multi-centre trips. This natural gateway shows the greater diversity of Florida.”

Return flights, running twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from January 24, are available for an introductory rate of $297.