‘Light at the End of the Tunnel': What's Next for Tourism in Fort Lauderdale

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With many pandemic-related travel restrictions in the rearview mirror, Visit Lauderdale hosted an event to celebrate national travel and tourism week.

The event was meant to highlight what’s next in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area in terms of tourism, and how they overcame the obstacles the pandemic brought.

Ahead of the Grand Prix weekend here in South Florida, they hosted the Race to Recovery event to look back at the pandemic’s impact and how they plan to keep the industry afloat.

“For us, it’s a celebration of the recovery, of the bounce back, the ending of the pandemic, as far as tourism goes, a celebration of how much we’ve achieved,” said Visit Lauderdale CEO Stacy Ritters.

She says navigating the pandemic was tough. Now, with more events coming back up and the start of new ones, like the races this weekend, they’re looking ahead and locking in partnerships.

Their most recent collaboration and relationship is with Italian luxury car brand Alfa Romeo.

“We were really looking for a location that not only gave us access to race fans, but that really gave us access to premium customers,” said Vince Maccani with Alfa Romeo. “Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas park, really provided the best location for us to give a taste of the track to consumers, as well as bring a taste of Italian coast to the coast of Fort Lauderdale.”

Ritter says, looking back, the pandemic caused thousands of people to lose their jobs in the tourism industry – an industry that is part of the backbone of Broward County’s economy.

They had to shift gears and focus on how to get visitors back in the area, while recognizing the severity of the pandemic.

“We spent a lot of time working on a recovery strategy,” said Ritter. “Marketing pretty much shut down. We weren’t going to market and promote a destination when no one was traveling. It was a very sensitive time and you had to be sensitive to people's reactions to what you were doing.”

The rebranding efforts included a new name for the group and a new tag line: Everyone Under The Sun.

“It was really difficult, but we just stuck through it, kept our heads down, knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel, eventually,” she said. “And here got there.”

Alfa Romeo and Visit Lauderdale are partnering to host a free event on Sunday to watch the races. You can register here.

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