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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 5 years ago

Sunny days for tourism

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Forget being like Mike.

Forget being like Mike.

At Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing department, it's all about being like Mickey.

That's why the organization, coming of a record-setting, five-year run, has set bold goals for the next half-decade. One of those targets is to shift the main success metric from people visited to how much those people spend, and to surpass $100 billion in tourism dollars by 2020. That would be a 21.9% jump from $82 billion in 2015.

Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe says the effort mirrors the always-be-better ethos of Disney World. “They never rest on their laurels. They are constantly reinventing their products. They are constantly reinventing their customer service,” says Seccombe. “You can sit back and enjoy the ride or you can double down and look for every opportunity to build momentum.”

Seccombe's comments came during a recent morning coffee presentation on Visit Florida's goals at Visit Sarasota's downtown Sarasota office. While most of the talk looked ahead, Seccombe also reflected on the past five years of booming tourism growth statewide. The number of visitors to Florida has increased 22% in five years, from 81 million in 2010 to 98.9 million in 2014. The figure will likely pass 100 million when 2015 data are officially released later this year.

The marketing budget at Visit Florida has also increased significantly in the last five years, from less than $30 million in 2011 to $74 million in the last fiscal year. That's not a coincidence. “Tourism marketing works,” Seccombe says. “When you don't do it, you get hurt.”

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