Here comes the sun, courtesy of sunny Fort Lauderdale! In this edition of Take 5, we chat with Paul Mason, Senior Manager, Global Trade Development at Visit Lauderdale, to discuss all things sun-related in this beloved destination. From beaches to the ‘Broadwalk,’ from water taxis to the Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida makes for the ultimate sunny getaway.
1. How can Canadians get to Fort Lauderdale this year?
“Air Canada, Canada Jetlines, Flair Airlines, Swoop and WestJet all offer flights to Fort Lauderdale from Canada. There are 248 flights between April and July, which is the middle of a lower season for the Canadian market. This will pick up as we move closer to the high season, which runs from December through March/April.
“Snowbirds still love to drive to us – we see lots of Quebec and Ontario licence plates this time of year. From Orlando, Canadians can also take the Brightline (starting soon) to Fort Lauderdale, which is our speed train that connects Orlando to Miami with stops in West Palm, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura and Miami.”
2. What are 3 new offerings that travel agents should know about?
“First, the Brightline Train. This high-speed train offers a convenient and comfortable way to travel between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It offers free Wi-Fi, food and beverage service, and comfortable seating, making it a great option for leisure travellers. The Brightline will connect from Orlando’s International Airport Terminal C to Miami with all stops mentioned above in the next few weeks.
“Next, the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. This unique mode of transportation allows visitors to see the city from a different perspective while travelling on the waterways. The water taxi offers multiple stops along the Intracoastal Waterways and the New River, giving travellers easy access to many popular destinations and attractions in Fort Lauderdale. Though it’s not new, water taxis are a great way for our tourists to get around and see the mansions and yachts up close on both the Intracoastal and New River.
“Lastly, the City of Fort Lauderdale has introduced the Micro Mover, a free, convenient and sustainable mobility option to help get residents and visitors around downtown, Las Olas and the beach. Just download the ‘Ride Circuit’ app to book your ride.
“And for all things new that we offer, check out the ‘What’s New in Greater Fort Lauderdale’ on our website. This will go into detail offerings like our Ale Trail, our Aquatic Center and International Hall of Fam complex, new restaurants, events and hotels that have just opened, as well as new attractions, exhibits and event updates.”
3. Fort Lauderdale is obviously known for its beaches. But what’s something that most travellers don’t know about the destination?
“We are known as the ‘Venice of America’ as we have 300+ miles of inland waterways. We’re also known as the ‘Yachting Capital of the World’ with over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and 50,000 yachts. We also have the largest in-water boat show in the world at the end of every October, featuring 1,300 boats and 100,000 visitors.
“Travellers may not also know that we’re a major diving and snorkelling destination. Three tiers of coral reef – 70 to be exact – run right off the coast, just a few hundred feet from the beach. There are also over 18 ships to discover in Shipwreck Park, off the coast of Pompano Beach.
“We’re also proud to be home to the third busiest cruise port in the world. Disney will begin cruising from Port Everglades in November 2023; the Disney Dream will be the first of its cruise ships to call Port Everglades home.
“And I also have to mention our incredible biodiversity. Two-thirds of Broward County is the Everglades, where you will find an ecosystem like none other in the world. And did you know that South Florida, in general, serves as the nesting site for thousands of endangered sea turtles? Three of the seven species – Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback – nest here between the months of March and October.”
4. What activities/attractions would you recommend for a family vacation?
“It depends on what you like and the time of year, but I personally love the Broadwalk – not to be confused with ‘Boardwalk’! Located in Hollywood, Florida, it’s one of our eight main municipalities along the coastline. You can enjoy the beach, ride bikes, skate or just enjoy walking and people watching while sampling the many restaurants and bars along the way.
“The Everglades and an airboat ride would be my next adventure, followed by Flamingo Gardens to enjoy wildlife and tropical gardens. If you are a beach person, we have eight beaches to choose from. You can enjoy the day at Pompano Beach and fish right off their pier, which is shaped like a pompano fish. Then in the evening, you can hop on the Jungle Queen, a vintage riverboat that offers sightseeing tours of Fort Lauderdale’s waterways. Enjoy their private island for chicken and ribs, some entertainment and the wildlife and flora around the island.
“You can also stroll along Las Olas in downtown Fort Lauderdale and enjoy many boutique restaurants, stores and nightlife, if the kids are older. Jacksons is a fun restaurant that’s been open since the 1950s. And if it’s a rainy day, go to Sawgrass Mills Mall for amazing outlet shopping, or the NSU Art Museum to take in their exhibits.”
5. How do you work with Canadian travel agents?
“We work with any travel agents in Canada through several programs. We offer fams based on their criteria and travel agent rates are recognized on our website. We also have pre- and post-cruise information, collateral materials and our popular ‘LauderDeals’ on our site. Our Lauderdale Loyalist program offers travel agents the opportunity to be certified in order to promote and market the greater Fort Lauderdale region. There’s a mobile app for the program as well, and there’s no charge to participate. It offers the following:
- Earn 2 Travel Institute CEU / 2 ACTA CTC credits
- 3 Foundation Chapters to earn diploma
- Ready-to-go marketing collateral
- Integrated high-impact sales resources
- Insider tips & promotions
- Consumer-friendly showcases
- Timely news and updates
- Partner director and Showcases
For more information go to www.visitlauderdale.com.