Agents are “critical” in driving UK visitor numbers to Florida to reach pre-pandemic levels, as the state’s recovery “intensifies”, according to Visit Florida president and chief executive Dana Young.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at World Travel Market, Young praised the performance of UK agents and thanked them for their “ongoing commitment” to Florida, which she said is the fastest-recovering state in the US in terms of UK visitors.
Young said UK visitor numbers to Florida stand at 89% of pre-pandemic levels compared to the US as a whole, which is at 78%, while market share is also higher, as 30% of UK travellers visit Florida, up from 28.7% in 2019.
“That 89% recovery figure is really good considering the US still had some travel barriers in place in 2022, such as Covid test requirements and vaccine rules,” said Young.
“We have seen an intensification of recovery as the speed in which travellers return has picked up, and the UK remains our number one overseas market which is great.
“In the first three quarters of the year, we had 867,000 UK visitors and that didn’t include October half term and the Christmas period so we are looking good that we might exceed 2019 levels.”
Young said Florida has seen an “unusually high” number of solo travellers visiting the state, totalling 47% of total UK visitors compared to 38% in 2019, but lower than the 2021 figure of 61%.
Travel spend from UK visitors is also “way up”, Young said, at 23% higher then 2019 levels, which she attributed to pent-up demand from the pandemic, as well as inflation and the exchange rate.
The length of stay from UK visitors has also increased to 12.5 nights compared to 12.1 nights in 2019.
Airlift is 0.3% lower than it was in 2019 and Young said she is “hopeful” more flights will be scheduled to help support UK travellers
“We need flights to get people to Florida so we’re hoping that if there were more flights, more people would come,” she said.
“Airlines will only add flights if there is demand so we have to make sure we support them in driving demand from travellers.”
Picture: shutterstock.com/Artiom Photo
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