Santiago Corrada, President and CEO, Visit Tampa Bay

Florida Huddle: The latest Canadian stats, and another kick-off for Tampa Bay as Huddle returns in 2022

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Fresh off its Super Bowl last night, Tampa Bay had more good news to share today, with the return of Florida Huddle to its sunny shores in 2022.

Visit Tampa Bay President & CEO, Santiago Corrada was on hand for the announcement from VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO, Dana Young, at the kick-off for Florida Huddle 2021 this morning.

Santiago Corrada, President and CEO, Visit Tampa Bay

Florida Huddle 2022 will take place Jan. 24 – 26, 2022 at the Tampa Convention Center.

“Florida Huddle provides an invaluable opportunity to connect travel professionals from around the world with Florida’s top destinations, hotels, resorts, and attractions. We’re thrilled to be able to host this signature event in Tampa next year and open doors to new business possibilities that drive visitation to every region of our great state,” said Young.

Corrada added: “We are very excited to be welcoming Florida Huddle and all our hospitality industry friends in person to Tampa Bay in 2022. We are no strangers to hosting some of the most epic Huddles and this time around will be very special. Since last time we hosted, Tampa has changed dramatically with brand-new hotels, attractions, restaurants and an emerging downtown core that has become a focus for residents and visitors. We know you’ll love it and we look forward to hosting an industry reunion that we all need.”

 

FLORIDA HUDDLE 2021 NOW UNDERWAY

Florida Huddle 2021, taking place virtually this week, Feb. 8 – 12, is welcoming more than 700 participants including buyers, suppliers and, for the first time ever, travel agents.

“It’s wonderful to have so many travel agents with us,” said Young. “The virtual format really lends itself to that. Going forward, if having travel agents join Florida Huddle is successful, and I think it will be, we could continue to have some sort of virtual element, to make sure that agents who can’t be with us in person can take part virtually.”

This Friday’s virtual fams were designed with travel agents in mind, plus there are three Destinations Master Classes highlighting top sun spots from Florida’s Space Coast, Gatorland and Crystal River, to Tampa Bay, Daytona Beach Area and Panama City Beach, to Central Florida, the Palm Beaches and St. Pete / Clearwater.

Opening Florida Huddle 2021 this morning, Young said there’s plenty of reason for hope as the industry navigates through close to a year of COVID-19. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but all the good news about vaccines makes me very optimistic for the year ahead,” she said.

 

CANADA’S NUMBERS TO FLORIDA

After hitting a low just under 3.5 million in 2016, Canadian visits to Florida were gradually trending back up in recent years.

They edged above 3.5 million in 2019 and were no doubt headed back to 2014’s high-ground of 4 million, if the pandemic hadn’t intervened.

Like with every destination, COVID-19 changed the trajectory dramatically. But looking ahead VISIT FLORIDA takes heart in the number of scheduled flights from Canadian airlines to the Sunshine State in the spring and summer months.

Jacob Pewitt Yancey, VISIT FLORIDA’s Director of Consumer Insights & Analytics, shared several graphs this morning during Florida Huddle’s International Update: Canada session.

The graph showing scheduled air capacity to Florida, from Canada, shows a predictable flat line from April 2020 all the way through to the end of the year, with a bit of an uptick right at the end of 2020. The blue 2021 line, on the other hand, shows some signs of life. “Is that blue line going up a little bit, recovering a little bit? Yes it is,” says Pewitt Yancey.

Florida Huddle 2021 continues all this week. Event details can be found at floridahuddle.com.

 

Kathryn Folliott