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Florida Tourism Marketers Aim To Attract More International, Young Visitors

Carmichael before crowd
Ricky Carmichael via VISIT FLORIDA

State officials say Florida tourism numbers are expected to set a new record for the fourth consecutive year. But to keep that kind of momentum amidst an aging population, tourism marketers are looking for innovative ways to reach millennials and international travelers.

VISIT FLORIDA CEO Will Seccombe says one attempt is a new partnership with a world-famous motocross star, Florida native Ricky Carmichael. Florida will appear as a landscape in Carmichael’s "Motocross Matchup" bike-racing video game.

“We can’t continue to market to that generation the same way we’ve marketed to older generations. And the Ricky Carmichael partnership is kind of our first foray into really an integrated marketing program to speak to them," Seccombe says.

He adds young adults today don’t respond well to marketing that looks like marketing. And for his part of the deal, Carmichael will tweet about Florida and do appearances around the state.

And visitors from outside the U.S. make up a relatively small piece of the roughly 100 million people who come to Florida each year. To try to attract more foreign travelers, VISIT FLORIDA has also partnered with Spanish language TV network Telemundo. It's also sponsoring next year’s Brazil fashion week. Seccombe says increased state funding has made the global focus possible.

"As you look at the growth, our international-visitors volume is actually growing faster than our domestic-visitors volume, and that’s important because international visitors tend to stay longer and spend more money," he says.

VISIT FLORIDA announced the new programs at this week’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Boca Raton. It also launched a new Florida iPad app that’s available in four languages. And it’s paying National Geographic to cover Florida next year.