A stop in buzzing Tampa Bay will bring clients the famed Floridian sunshine and vibrancy in equal measure. Abra Dunsby rounds up the bay’s latest happenings and openings
Located an hour’s drive away from Orlando and with miles of beautiful, sun-drenched beaches on its doorstep, Tampa Bay makes for a refreshing, peppy pit stop on a Floridian break.
The bay is fast establishing itself as something of a hipster enclave, says Patrick Harrison, Tampa Bay’s chief marketing o cer. “We’re not Miami Beach. There’s a different scene here. Think of us as Portland [Oregon] with sunshine – great craft beer, music and culture.”
The UK is Tampa’s largest source of overseas visitors, and the addition of a Norwegian flight from Gatwick (launched October 31) means more are on the horizon.
Operators including Travel 2 have seen a rise in 2018 visitor numbers, a trend it predicts will continue. Ross Sinclair, senior product manager for the US and Caribbean at Travel 2, says: “Tampa has seen an increase in revenue of 79% year-on-year, with an increased focus on the destination in both the 2018/19 brochure and in our marketing. This has allowed us to support Tampa and drive the growth we are seeing.”
As well as great beaches, Tampa is home to cool restaurants and bars, while a smattering of museums and galleries will keep culture vultures happy. Its proximity to Florida’s lesser-known Panhandle area makes it a good base for budding adventurers too.
Tampa’s Ybor City is worth a visit for its vibrancy and Cuban flair. The city is named after Vicente Martinez- Ybor, a Spanish entrepreneur who brought the cigar industry to Florida from Cuba in the late 1800s. Tell clients to spend an evening here, when the bars throng with locals and tourists and nightclubs play music until late.
Downtown hotspot Sparkman Wharf is dotted with waterfront restaurants, located near the Tampa Riverwalk and many of the area’s hotels. A new food hall recently popped up here, the third to open in Tampa Bay in just over a year. Here, street food stalls are fashioned from former shipping containers, plus there’s a beer garden and local bands often rock up to play music.