Visit by travel agents, tour operators grew out of regional trade mission
TAMPA (DATE) – Tour operators and travel agents from Chile could get their first chance to unlock Tampa Bay as early as February, Visit Tampa Bay President & CEO Santiago Corrada said Monday.
The visit – known as a familiarization tour – grew out of last week’s Tampa Bay trade mission to Santiago, Chile. Familiarization trips – “fams,” for short — give travel agents and tour operators a first-hand understanding of the Tampa Bay region as a destination so they can help their clients make travel choices
Corrada and Marisol Berrios, leisure sales and development manager, joined the trade mission aimed at promoting both Hillsborough County and Pinellas County as new places for Chilean companies and Chilean residents to visit and do business.
During their visit to Chile, Corrada and Berrios, both fluent Spanish speakers, joined representatives of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and focused their message on the people would can help bring tourism to Tampa Bay from Chile.
Over three days, they met with 40 tour operators, 100 travel agents and travel journalists and discussed everything the region offers, from the beaches and the Dalí Museum in Pinellas County to Busch Gardens and Ybor City in Hillsborough County.
In March, the U.S. government stopped requiring a visa for citizens of Chile to visit the United States. Corrada said Monday that change will be a major help in showing visitors the gems they can discover in Tampa Bay.
There’s also Copa Airlines, which flies between Santiago and Tampa International Airport with a single stop at its hub in Panamá.
Copa has expanded its service to Tampa Bay to daily through the winter months.
“Copa has done what it said it would do for us,” Corrada said Monday. “So Chile becomes a very strong prospect for us in terms of tourism.”
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Visit Tampa Bay leads the effort of economic development through tourism. The mission of Visit Tampa Bay is to create vibrant economic growth for the Tampa Bay area by selling and promoting the Tampa Bay destination. The independent not-for-profit organization represents more than 700 businesses throughout the area and works to ignite interest for Visiting Tampa Bay.