Figures from The Co-operative Travel, one of the UK’s largest travel retailers, indicate that Florida’s new Harry Potter theme park may be weaving its magic over the resort’s struggling tourism industry.
Last year Visit Florida reported a 4 million drop in visitors* to the region, not helped by a significant reduction in UK visitors, the main source of overseas tourism for the area with an average 1 million visitors a year.
This year the overall picture still looks difficult, with industry figures reporting that total leisure bookings are down 15% on 2009**.
However, it seems that Harry Potter’s arrival at Universal Studios may be about to magically solve Florida’s woes.
According to The Co-operative Travel, package bookings from families are bucking Florida’s downward trend. Bookings have increased 7% for summer 2010 and Florida’s share of the UK’s package holiday pound has increased to over 4%.
Trevor Davis, Director of Retail Distribution at The Co-operative Travel says, “I’m sure many resorts wish that they had someone that could come in and wave a magic wand to improve bookings. Fortunately for Florida that’s exactly what they do have.
“We’re seeing package bookings to Florida significantly outperform the overall travel market, indicating that pester-power is starting to influence family bookings.
“The exchange rate is also helping to attract families looking for better value, with the relative weakness of the dollar giving UK holidaymakers up to 15% more spending power than they had last year.”
A joint venture between Warner Bros. and Universal, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a state-of the art theme park complete with full size Hogwarts Castle and the village of Hogsmeade. The attraction is based in Orlando at the Universal Studios theme park and is due to open its doors later this year.
Travel companies are tempting families with various Harry Potter-themed deals. For example, The Co-operative Travel customers booking with Virgin Holidays are being offered a number of exclusive extras including free parking, a complimentary gift, early entrance to the park and a free breakfast at the Three Broomsticks restaurant. Bookings are now being taken for as far ahead as summer 2011.
Florida is now the UK’s 6th favourite holiday destination. Spain is still the number 1 choice, with Turkey overtaking Greece as the UK’s number two.