'Workcations' set to boost tourism recovery

Routes Americas delegates hear how changes in working practices could see people combine business travel with vacations.

Changes to traditional working practices since the onset of the pandemic could fuel a rise in tourism as the recovery kicks in, delegates at Routes Americas 2021 heard on June 23.

Speaking during a panel session looking at how destinations can further stimulate leisure demand, Experience Kissimmee CEO DT Minich (pictured, center) said the acceleration of the work from home model could lead many people to take longer trips by combining work with a vacation.

“If you would have told me two-and-a-half years ago that my team would be working from home permanently two or three day a week, I would have said you are absolutely nuts, but we’re seeing that right across the country—and I think it’s great for the future of tourism,” he said.

“People have learned that they can work from anywhere. You can live in California but work from Florida on a vacation, which is great for business.”

Minich added that many people have also saved money on recreational spending over the past 15 months, meaning they are now more willing to splash out on a longer or more luxurious vacations.

Visit Florida CEO Dana Young (pictured, center right) said her organization embarked on an “unapologetic” tourism offensive to lure travelers from across the US, resulting in an influx of domestic airline capacity.

Visit Orlando CEO Casandra Matej (pictured, center left) said a focus on restoring confidence had been key to its marketing campaigns. She explained that the organization initially targeted people within Florida, encouraging them to experience their “home” destination before widening it to other states.

“We’re fortunate that Florida has remained open and we’re now probably a year ahead of a lot of our competitors,” Matej said. “On the meetings and convention side, we’ve been able to share with the industry how you can have a meeting or event in a safe manner. That’s been very powerful.”

Disney Destinations SVP Claire Bilby (pictured, far right) said Disney opted to invite its biggest social media influences to Walt Disney World Resort once it reopened to experience the health measures in place and communicate them to their followers.

“This wasn’t Disney saying, ‘we’re safe’—it was about getting people here to experience it and spread it by word of mouth,” she said. “One of my favorite quotes was from a guest who said they felt safer at Disney than in their job—and it was from a health care worker.

“I think some of the airlines have done a great job as well. The more we can get that over organically, the better for the entire industry.”

Photo credit: Craig Huey

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