Palm Beach County Tourism Agency announces record-breaking year and looks forward to safeguarding tourism as a shared value for county residents and businesses
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2023) – Discover The Palm Beaches (DTPB) held a special State of the Tourism Industry event today at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa for tourism partners and community stakeholders. The event’s subtitle was “A Community Shared Value” aimed at reaffirming the increasingly important role that the tourism industry plays in the economy and quality of life of all residents in Palm Beach County. The official tourism marketing organization for Palm Beach County released data that shows record-breaking visitation, spending, economic impact, and revenue for FY2021-2022, surpassing all its goals for the fiscal year:
TOTAL VISITATION – 9.1M total visitors, up 31% from 2021
TOTAL SPENDING – $6.7B, up 34% from 2021
TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACT – $9.7B, up 33% from 2021
REVENUE RESULTS – $1.4B in room night revenue generated with $77.8M in bed tax collections, up 44% from the peak in 2019
Keynote speakers at the event included Don Welsh, president & CEO of Destinations International, Dana Young, president & CEO of Visit Florida, Peter Yesawich, vice chairman emeritus of MMGY Global, Verdenia Baker, county administrator, and Jorge Pesquera, president & CEO for DTPB. They covered a wide range of topics including international travel trends, Florida’s and Palm Beach County’s tourism economy, and the changing role of destination organizations. Additionally, Milton Segarra, chief marketing officer for DTPB, and Kelly Cavers, chief sales officer for DTPB spoke about DTPB’s 2023 sales and marketing initiatives.
President & CEO Jorge Pesquera covered key areas of focus for DTPB in 2023 including the evolution of the tourism brand architecture in alignment with other TDC agencies and key organizations, as well as the importance of a Tourism Master Plan and second headquarter-hotel in the Convention Center district. He challenged elected and community leaders to “go big or go home” suggesting that after record visitation and economic impact in 2022, the best days for Palm Beach County’s tourism industry are still ahead.
“This event serves as an opportunity to remind our residents, tourism partners, and community stakeholders to be aware of how vital tourism is to the economy of Palm Beach County,” Pesquera said. “Discover The Palm Beaches wants to build on this momentum and continue to refine our strategic goals, expand our local partnerships and alliances, and deploy cutting-edge marketing and sales strategies to safeguard this important shared community value.”
Speaking to tourism as a shared community value was Don Welsh, president & CEO of Destinations International who emphasized the importance of local tourism and civic leaders working together for the betterment of the community. Tourism is the second leading economic driver in The Palm Beaches behind agriculture, contributing to the overall strength of the destination.
“Jorge and the team at Discover The Palm Beaches have done an outstanding job of working closely with all community leaders to make their community a great place to live, work, and visit,” commented Welsh. “I always enjoy returning to this beautiful destination to learn what the team has been working on for the betterment of all residents.”
In early 2023, the Tourist Development Council, in collaboration with all TDC agencies, plans to move forward with a request for proposal to recruit a consulting company that will assist in the execution of a Tourism Master Plan (TMP). The TMP will provide a long-term visionary roadmap to maintain and enhance Palm Beach County’s position relative to other competitive tourism destinations, addressing tourism-related development for the region, identifying opportunities for investors and businesses, and closing the gap between demand and supply for visitors, residents, and stakeholders. Ultimately, a TMP will support the collective aspirations of TDC agencies, county, and community leadership to improve the lives of residents by providing economic opportunities, spearheading destination-enhancing infrastructure, promoting cultural and sports activities, attracting/creating transformational events, and championing diversity, equity and inclusion and sustainable tourism practices as the guiding pillars for DTPB.
Trends and Challenges
Peter Yesawich, vice chair emeritus of MMGY, who also serves as vice chair of DTPB board of directors, discussed current trends among American travelers. He presented several key items from MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers, Winter Edition 2022, including how Florida, and specifically The Palm Beaches, remains one of the destinations U.S. leisure travelers express the greatest interest in visiting during the next two years. Although interest in overnight travel has declined slightly since Oct. ’21 and the dramatic post-pandemic surge, he revealed that most travelers intend to take a similar number of trips in the year ahead and spend significantly more on those trips than last year.
“While economic anxiety and affordability are now top of mind, we know travel sentiment remains strong, and this augurs well for the tourism industry in The Palm Beaches this coming year,” said Yesawich. “Having measured travel sentiment and the actual consumer behavior that follows for over 30 years we know one thing for sure: Americans consider leisure travel a birthright…something they’re not prepared to forego, regardless of their current circumstance. They may travel closer to home, stay fewer nights, even spend a little less, but they’re still going to take vacations. And The Palm Beaches are well positioned to capitalize on this enduring trend given the comprehensive destination marketing plan in place to attract and serve those visitors in the year ahead.”
Looking Ahead – Sales and Marketing
Beginning in 2023, DTPB will grow its destination brand presence with a new creative agency, the evolution of the brand identity, a website redesign, a clear segmentation strategy, and new summer season initiatives. Plans include increased television advertising buys, expanding strategic marketing partnerships, and developing a robust digital platform in tandem with a new demand forecasting tool.
The agency also plans to further develop sales/service integration by creating increased visibility at tradeshows, leveraging the intellectual capital of Palm Beach County community leaders, implementing new tools like mobile visitor information centers, and attracting transformational events that fill hotel rooms during “need periods”. Additionally, a focus on enhancing integrated marketing efforts in key international markets namely Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, the UK, and Germany will be vital, as international visitors to The Palm Beaches make up 8% of total visitation to the destination.
Accelerated community engagement and sustainability initiatives are also in the works by enhancing community partnerships, increasing city partnership initiatives, and reaffirming its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across all efforts.
Milton Segarra, chief marketing officer for DTPB comments, “DTPB’s research indicates that friends and family are by far the most trusted referral source for future visitors to The Palm Beaches, so we’re creating a new program called ‘Love The Palm Beaches’, encouraging Palm Beach County residents to invite their loved ones via a community outreach toolkit. The power of a personal invitation is invaluable, and we hope our residents will join us in the effort to show off everything The Palm Beaches has to offer.”
The #LoveThePalmBeaches resident referral campaign will provide shareable content and incentivize locals with daily and weekly prizes to help share the love of their hometown and increase awareness of the destination among potential visitors.
Guests in attendance at the event were supplied with picture-perfect pre-stamped postcards by popular local landscape artist Lydia Marie Elizabeth to start sending “Wish You Were Here” messages to friends and family.
2022 Visitor Rebound
Visitor rebound in FY21-22 was strongest among domestic travelers, with visitation from Canada, the UK, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia continuing to grow. In FY21-22, domestic visitation was up 27% percent, out-of-state visitation grew 33% while visits from Florida grew 19%. According toMMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers Winter Edition 2022, 45% of American travelers are interested in visiting The Palm Beaches over the next 2 years.
“Post-pandemic, we knew we were well-positioned to rebound our tourism industry quickly with our idyllic climate and ample outdoor spaces and activities, and we are very proud to have surpassed all of our expectations thanks to the strength of our community and our brand,” reiterated Pesquera. “We’re optimistic that 2023 will continue to see steady growth in visitation as we deploy innovative sales and marketing strategies and more travelers become aware of our one-of-a-kind, diverse destination.”
The Palm Beaches plans to welcome 19 new hotels with 2,533 rooms opening by 2025, contributing to this continued success.
To find out more information and view DTPBs’ full FY’22-23 marketing plan, visit: www.thepalmbeaches.com/AnnualMarketingPlan.
About Discover The Palm Beaches
Discover The Palm Beaches is the official 501(c)(6) not-for-profit, accredited tourism marketing organization that promotes the collection of 39 cities and towns commonly referred to as The Palm Beaches, which spans more than 2,300 square miles and boasts 47 miles of pristine beaches from Highland Beach and Boca Raton to Jupiter and Tequesta. Tasked with growing visitation and the local tourism economy, the organization works year-round to bring travelers from around the state, country and globe to visit Palm Beach County. The Palm Beaches have a rich history in hospitality as America’s First Resort Destination® and tourism is among Palm Beach County’s major industries, generating $9.7 billion in economic impact during 2022.
The Palm Beaches are home to more than 18,400 hotel rooms and feature more than 100 family-friendly attractions, an abundance of world-class luxury, award-winning restaurants, and 125 miles of peaceful waterways for on- or in-the-water activities, including 160 artificial reefs that line the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream current. 160 golf courses have earned it the moniker of Florida’s Golf Capital®, as well as The Cultural Capital of Florida® due to its thriving entertainment scene of more than 200 art and culture organizations. Situated along I-95, The Palm Beaches are accessible via Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), which offers more than 200 daily nonstop flights across the United States and seasonal lift to/from Canada. The Palm Beaches are also conveniently located within driving distance of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Miami International airports.
For more information about The Palm Beaches, visit www.ThePalmBeaches.com or on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok). Visitors and residents can take advantage of county-wide deals via The Palm Beaches Savings Pass. They can also tune in to The Palm Beaches TV for 24/7 streaming content of the destination’s hotels, attractions, restaurants and experiences.
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