Tampa Bay prepares for a great season
With a varied and unique proposal, the destination can achieve great growth this year
Tampa Bay has been growing year after year to position itself as an excellent alternative for those who travel to Florida. To find out what's going on there, we interviewed Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. We share his responses below:
What balance do you make of 2021 and what vision do you have about what can happen in it this season?
What has happened here during the pandemic has been a pretty incredible story, from the beginning of 2020 to today we have added over 3000 hotel rooms. Properties were not closed permanently, only some closures were very temporary. There was a hard blow to the occupation, before the health crisis we had reached 87%. But we have been recovering because the tourists have returned in a very strong way. We've had huge events like the Super Bowl during the pandemic and then opened the doors to all the conventions and gatherings at a time when other destinations in the country were closed.
This year I think it will be very strong, we finished the year 2021 breaking all the records of last year and now the occupancy rates are growing. People see Tampa as a healthy and safe place to visit because many precautions were taken here at the hotels, at the attractions, at the Convention Center, at the airport, at the port, etc.
How is the daily work with the private sector to enhance the tourist offer?
We work to be able to offer prices for all types of visitors. It is a very different destination from the rest of Florida. Here we have other types of attractions. It is an ancient city with a lot of history and culture. There are properties that have been converted into restaurants, hotels, etc. Whoever comes finds something new always.
What initiatives will be launched to strengthen the arrival of international visitors?
We are adding flights and investing a lot of money, more than ever throughout Latin America and Europe. We have had a stronger year than many other cities in the United States and we can spend those funds on promotion. We are going to participate in international fairs, carry out FAM's, etc.
What destinations will those who return to Tampa find after these two years?
We have new hotels, attractions, museums and restaurants, cultural sites and much more. Every year we have the opportunity to offer news to our visitors.
Which used to be the most important source markets before the pandemic and which are the strongest now?
The domestic visitor has always been more important than the international one. For us, the strongest source markets are England and Canada, followed by many visitors from Colombia, Brazil, Germany and Argentina.
Prior to the health crisis, we were expanding international flights and today we can continue to open routes. We added to Copa that it has the Panama hub and that allows us to connect with other Latin American countries.
They have hosted Florida Huddle, what do you think of this achievement and what impact can it have on the destination in the future?
Many people who have come have not visited us for years, others came for the first time and we have surprised them. They saw a very attractive and dynamic destination that even during a pandemic was able to offer a safe experience. I think we are going to have a lot of demand in both leisure and business tourism.