Writer: Felipe Rivas
2 min read May 2021 — The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the hospitality and tourism industry profoundly disrupted the sector in what was supposed to be a year of continued success for tourism-driven markets, such as Florida. In Greater Fort Lauderdale, the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions buoyed by the success of vaccination efforts is fueling optimism for a strong sectoral recovery, more than a year into the pandemic landscape.
Leading the recovery efforts via advocacy, industry resources, business support and market promotion is Visit Lauderdale, Broward County’s hospitality and tourism governmental agency.
Pent-up travel demand is music to the ears of hospitality and tourism industry leaders, business owners and workers who for more than a year have dealt with the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. The good news comes with a bevy of preparation and safety guidelines needed to meet the expectations of travelers seeking a vacation in the Greater Fort Lauderdale market, Visit Lauderdale President and CEO Stacy Ritter told Invest:. “According to Destination Analysts, over 70% of American travelers are highly excited by the prospect of near-term travel and very open to travel inspiration. More than three-quarters of American travelers say their state-of-mind around travel is ‘ready,’” Ritter said.
But the industry isn’t out of the woods, and there will be lingering impacts that potential travelers will take with them. “This excitement for a return to normalcy is all-around good news, but it is very important to remember that there are lasting effects of the pandemic on travelers’ attitudes and behaviors,” Ritter said. “Many travelers report that the pandemic has changed them, leaving them more budget and safety conscious, and generally more on their guard. Compared to their pre-pandemic selves, three-quarters say they are now more safety conscious and 45% feel they are now more budget conscious.”
With over 1,000 Broward County businesses taking Visit Lauderdale’s Safe + Clean Pledge, visitors can expect the local restaurants, stores, and attractions to uphold safety protocols and standards. To cater to visitors’ budget-awareness, Visit Lauderdale is placing a keen focus on its LauderDeals savings program.
The LauderDeals program offers visitors year-round deals that promote local hotels, attractions, and dining and spa options, but the promotional focus shines a spotlight on summer deals between June and September. “The timing is excellent, since we know that not only Floridians – typically the majority of our summer market – but most all American travelers are interested in traveling for vacations this summer, and that they are on the lookout for deals,” Ritter said.
Coupled with deals to enjoy the market in a cost-conscious manner, visitors can expect a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment when visiting Broward County. “We want our tourism brand to reflect who we are as a community. We’ve evolved into a highly cosmopolitan region. We have people from over 170 countries speaking 147 languages and we’re recognized as the LGBT+ capital of Florida. Our diversity is our strength and our new destination tagline, “Everyone Under the Sun,” reflects the people who live here and the personality of the destination, and the welcoming atmosphere this provides for visitors,” Ritter said.
The recovery of the hospitality and tourism industry overall goes hand in hand with Visit Lauderdale’s recent rebranding efforts. It was formerly known as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Brand identity is critical to successful tourism marketing. Visit Lauderdale is short and simple and says, ‘we are the organization that invites people to visit us throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale.’ In both our leisure and group business advertising, Visit Lauderdale is also our call to action,” she said.
With 31 municipalities in Broward County, visitors can expect a dynamic, authentic tourism experience especially in a post-COVID world, an experience that encapsulates Visit Lauderdale’s “Everyone Under the Sun” tagline. “Our mission as an organization is to attract short-term visitors to stay in paid lodging, which provides steady employment and positive economic impact throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale. By welcoming Everyone Under the Sun, we let visitors know they will find a sense of community here, with 31 distinct communities spiced with multicultural cuisine, a rich backdrop of arts and culture and a sense of belonging. We are confident this will attract them and encourage them to visit often,” Ritter said. “Travelers are increasingly interested in discovering the authentic essence of the places they visit. They love our beaches, but they want to do more than cruise. They are seeking interesting ethnic cuisine and local coffee shops. Our highly diverse local residents provide a built-in welcoming committee for visitors who are eager to explore our area beyond the beaches.”
Broward County’s outdoor offerings are generating healthy interest from visitors of all ages seeking safe experiences. “Our parks, natural areas and attractions that offer fresh air and wide-open spaces are of great interest. Since safety is still a consideration, families in particular are seeking fun things to do together that gets everyone outdoors, even if only for a few hours. Kayaking, paddleboarding, bicycling, nature walks, boating, scuba diving, snorkeling and more are all readily available here and very popular,” Ritter said.
For more information, visit: https://www.visitlauderdale.com
Photo credit: Visit Lauderdale