With apologies to Paul Revere, we have a special reason to be excited about the arrival of November this year.
This is usually an exciting time of the annual calendar in its own right. Just to start with, it is the beginning of the official ‘Manatee Season,’ when these amazing creatures start to head back into coastal waters and provide our visitors with ideal adventure opportunities (hence our Manatee Snorkel Tours become even more compelling than usual).
But this month there is much more reason to celebrate. Our Brits are coming back!
OK, we’re not trying to be disrespectful to any of our other international visitors, but the past 20-plus months have been notable for the complete absence of our usual cousins from across the pond, and it has been a real blow to Orlando’s tourism business.
True, we have been fortunate to see a strong domestic rebound in 2021 in the wake of the pandemic’s effects, but the ongoing ban on non-essential travel from Europe has been painful for many of us.
The simple fact is our international travelers stay longer and go further afield while they’re here. They like to actually SEE Florida when they come to Florida!
And they’re also fun to have around. Being British in our original foundation, we can especially relate to visitors from London, and Birmingham, and Newcastle and Manchester, and all the other parts of the British Isles that normally send us thousands of tourists every year.
In pure numbers terms, they add around one million to Florida’s annual tourism figures, and their economic impact is estimated at something in the region of $1.5billion to the state. That’s not chump change.
Their complete absence has therefore been keenly felt. But, as of November 8, the travel ban is officially over, and regular flights from the likes of London, Manchester, and Edinburgh will take off and head across the Atlantic once more.
It will certainly be a very happy day at Orlando International Airport (and Tampa and Miami, come to that), and you can be sure that MCO will lay out its best Welcome Mat for the occasion.
At the same time, hotels and restaurants up and down International Drive will be relishing hearing all those British accents again, as will the villa owners in Osceola, Polk, and Lake counties, where many of our UK visitors now stay when they’re here.
It’s the kind of commercial bonus we all need at this time of year, and you can be sure we’ll be celebrating with gusto at the return of those first Virgin Atlantic flights on November 8 (and for the British Airways planes, that return on November 15)!
In all seriousness, the UK has often provided a major boost to Orlando’s economic engine in the past, notably in the wake of September 11, when they continued to flock to Florida and its various attractions, and again during the recession of 2008-09, when our domestic visitation took a real hit but the Brits kept coming.
Now we’re hoping they will kick in again, returning to all their favorite haunts, and ensuring it’s a win-win for both attractions and tourists alike. We know the feeling is mutual, and that their return will be eagerly anticipated by everyone here as the flights arrive from London’s Heathrow Airport (which will be Britain’s main gateway to Orlando for the first time).
Many of them – we would go as far as to say a good 60 percent of the UK visitation – are regular holiday-makers to the Sunshine State, and, to be denied their annual or bi-annual Florida “fix” has been a truly distressing period for them. The pent-up demand for the Theme Park Capital of the World has been huge, and that is about to be released in dramatic fashion.
November 1 even saw a high-powered panel event, titled ‘Orlando Welcomes the Brits Back,’ which served as a wide-ranging discussion on the impact that the returning UK travelers will have.
It featured Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Visit Orlando CEO Cassandra Matej, Nicolette Brent (the British Consul General to Florida), Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown, and Simon Hawkins, the Head of USA for Virgin Atlantic, and they all spoke with one voice – they couldn’t wait for November 8!
Matej insisted: “The UK is our number one overseas market and [their return] means big business for our local economy as British visitors tend to stay for an average of 11 days. We are very excited about the border re-opening and the opportunity to invite our UK friends back to Orlando.”
The Visit Orlando chief pointed out they have been making special efforts to highlight the re-opening with their dedicated “Wonder Remains” marketing campaign in recent months in the UK, and they expect it to pay dividends in the months ahead.
Virgin Atlantic chief Hawkins added to the expectations, insisting: “Don’t underestimate the fact that people haven’t been able to come here for almost two years now. We are definitely seeing strong underlying demand [for Orlando], and I am confident we are going to have a very good first half of 2022.”
For those of us offering a wider range of things to do and see here in Central Florida, it is definitely a promising prospect. Prior to the pandemic, our buses were typically jam-packed with excited British visitors eager to see the likes of the Kennedy Space Center, Clearwater Beach, and Crystal River, or sample an airboat ride, all without having to do any of the driving.
And we can be pretty sure that will resume after November 8, to the benefit of all. As we always like to say, there is an awful lot of Florida to see, and it isn’t just the theme parks and the sea.
So, if you spot any of our buses or other vehicles proudly flying the Union Jack flag in the coming weeks, it’s just our way of saying “Welcome back. Now come and have some fun again!”
Don’t forget our Price Match Guarantee. We do our best to always offer the lowest price, but, if you find a lower qualified price on another site, we will be more than happy to match it.
And remember, as well as our regular tours, Real Florida Adventures also features a variety of Private Tours just for small groups. And we’re always ready to go that extra mile to ensure we’re providing the personal, professional service that is the bedrock of every great vacation. Just give us a call (407-573-2535) and find out how we can tailor-make that perfect trip for YOUR family or group.