PETER CRANIS: Tour Operator, Airline TUI Arrival in Brevard Marks Significant Milestone
By Peter Cranis, TDO Executive Director // April 24, 2022
first transatlantic flight ever landed at Melbourne Orlando International Airport March 22
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – By now you may have heard the name TUI (pronounced too-ee) bantered about. The significance of this tour operator and airline that is flying visitors in from the United Kingdom cannot be underemphasized.
The first transatlantic flight ever landed at Melbourne Orlando International Airport at 4:30 p.m. on March 22 and not only does it mark a significant milestone, but it is the beginning of flights coming from multiple UK cities throughout each week including London, Manchester and Glasgow.
The economic impact of the 150,000 or so passengers it plans to bring in its first year of operation could amount to over $20 million conservatively.
I calculated this basing it on only 25% of the passengers staying for 2 nights in local hotels. I was also using visitor spending data that was calculated mostly using domestic travelers and experience tells us that international visitors spend much more.
In fact, we will be working with the airport to do an economic impact study to tell us exactly how much TUI passengers are spending here.
We are also working with TUI on the marketing side so that their passengers know about what a great place we are and I’m confident we can get that percentage of people staying here much higher.
The impact will certainly be felt far and wide on the Space Coast from hotels to restaurants to retail stores. And this is not just a short-term deal. TUI is contractually committed to 7 years of flights into Melbourne.
One thing I feel very strongly about is that once the Brits begin seeing all we have to offer on the Space Coast, they will be very excited about coming here and telling their friends and family about their experience.
Certainly, they may spend a few days or more doing the theme parks in Orlando, but they are going to need a break just to relax and we have exactly what they need with our beaches and more relaxing nature experiences.
Even Kennedy Space Center is more relaxed than the crowded theme parks to our west. It is my belief that the longer TUI brings passengers here, the more repeat and referral business we will get.
In fact, they may even have to increase their capacity due to the demand. So if you see someone from the UK here, be sure to welcome them. They mean a lot to our community and are part of what makes us such a great destination to visit.
BEST TAX REVENUE NUMBERS IN HISTORY
The final number was an incredible $2.297 million – an 80 percent increase over February 2020 and a 32 percent increase over February 2019, making it not only the best February in history (the 11th consecutive record month in a row) but the best month of Tourist Development Tax collection ever.
Year to date, we are at $8.55 million, compared to $4.88 million the previous year and $6.78 million in 2019/20.
We are continuing to see strong demand and all areas of the tourism economy seem to be going incredibly well.
Looking at TDT by type, hotels represented 65 percent of the total for the month and vacation rentals were 33 percent of TDT which typically has been around the 30 percent range.
In terms of hotel/motel revenue by city, Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral (31 percent) were, as usual, slightly ahead of Melbourne and the Beaches (29 percent) as a percentage of the total.
Looking ahead to March and April, we believe we will have very strong Spring Break numbers and March should be another record-setting month, exceeding the great month we had in February.
– Peter Cranis, Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director