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BY Abra Dunsby


WTM 2017: 'Trump slump? We predict a Trump bump,' says Visit Florida president

Visit Florida’s president Ken Lawson defied notions of a Trump slump at WTM London today, and said international visitor numbers remained high

Florida beach scene

Visit Florida's Ken Lawson denied the 'Trump slump', saying international visitor numbers remained high

Florida has denied any notion of a Trump slump, instead citing a “Trump bump” due to an expected rise in visitor numbers for 2017.


The president of Visit Florida, Ken Lawson, coined the phrase at WTM London today, when talking to TTG about visitor numbers to Florida.


Almost 113 million international visitors came to Florida in 2016, compared with 100 million in 2015.


The state’s largest inbound market is Canada, with the UK at number two, and representing 1.7 million visitors in 2016. Other important source markets include Brazil, Germany and China.


Lawson was keen to reinforce the message that Florida was ready to welcome visitors back since the devastation of Hurricane Irma, with “66 of Florida’s 67 provinces ready to go.”


He added that the worst affected area remains The Florida Keys, although recovery was making good progress, with 75% of hotel rooms now available to book.


Florida also revealed plans to increase its international budget to $11m, with $2m allocated to a UK winter campaign, due to run from January to March next year, and including Heart radio promotion in Manchester and Liverpool, airline partnerships and increased tour operator packages.


He said Brexit was “not a concern” and that UK visitors were still coming, though a weak pound meant they were more likely to stay in a lower priced hotel than before.


Lawson said increased flight capacity from the UK, including new flights to Miami from Dublin with Aerlingus, and to Fort Lauderdale from Gatwick, meant that UK visitor numbers should remain high.


“There were 5,201 flights into Florida in 2016, with an increase of 226 flights. That means a potential of 66,000 more visitors every year,” he said.


Two planned hotels for Universal Studios Orlando, targeting the budget-conscious traveller, also hope to boost appeal to Florida.

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