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'Great Outdoors Are The Safe Outdoors': Visit Florida Gameplans Marketing Strategy For 2021

Virus Outbreak Florida
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Beach goers enjoy a day on the sand and in the water, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, on Miami Beach, Florida's famed South Beach. Beaches in Miami-Dade County opened with restrictions Wednesday after having been closed for 12 weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

State tourism agency Visit Florida is putting together a game plan for attracting tourists in the coming year. It held a conference call Tuesday to discuss its marketing strategy through 2021.

Staci Mellman is Visit Florida’s chief marketing officer.

“After the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Florida, which was at the beginning of March, air travel pretty much vanished, and first-quarter visitation fell an estimated 10.7 percent compared to Q1 of 2019,” Mellman said.

That downturn in visitors is the largest single-quarter reversal since the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Mellman says. Visit Florida is anticipating more travelers to be driving in the coming year, as consumer confidence in flying has taken a significant hit from COVID-19.

But Mellman says competition with other states to attract travelers will be fierce, as she says other destinations will be fighting to maintain “their share of a smaller pie of travelers.”

There is scientific consensus that essentially is an endorsement for Florida tourism: Outdoor activities, year-round sunshine, smart social distancing, can make for a nearly risk-free vacation experience,” Mellman said. “Florida’s great outdoors, for us, are the safe outdoors.”

The agency hopes international travelers from Mexico and Canada will fill a void in overseas travelers coming to the U.S.