Visit Florida, in partnership with Air Canada, has tapped Canada’s The Weather Network to air a four-part docu-series designed to help remind Canadian travellers why the state is Canadians’ top warm-weather destination.
At a virtual press screening of one episode of the series this week, Visit Florida CEO Dana Young acknowledged that Canada is Florida’s “number one international market,” with 3.6 million Canadians visiting in 2019, a quarter of the Sunshine State’s international visitors.
That’s in a normal year, of course. “Winter in Florida is not the same without our Canadian Snowbirds,” she told the attending media, adding that the pandemic has, “impacted local tourism and the ability of international travellers to visit. We are making sure when international borders open, we are ready.”
When that happens, “our goal is to make sure Florida is at the top of their list,” she added.
The docu-series Wanderlust: Florida is designed to achieve that goal.
Sam Sebastian, CEO of The Weather Network, was also at the press screening, and began his remarks pointing out the new foot of snow that fell on southern Ontario this week. “In the context of that Canadian weather, it’s exciting we can bring the sunny state of Florida to (viewers) when it’s not possible for them to travel. We hope they’ll be inspired and can dream and will remember Florida as a destination to visit.”
In the series, the producers and Visit Florida focus on local operators, off-the-beaten track and active, outdoor experiences, many of which may be new to viewers who have travelled to Florida in the past, but have stuck with the beach or theme park style of visit.
The first episode airs Thursday night at 10pm ET on The Weather Network, and each episode will be re-aired on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Here’s the schedule of episodes and the travel experiences each episode features:
EPS 1 (18FEB) – Space Coast
- Cocoa Beach
- BK Adventure
- Kennedy Space Center
EPS 2 (25FEB) – Crystal River & area
- Plantation Adventure Centre for Manatees
- Ozello Keys Airboat
- Devil’s Den
EPS 3 (04MAR) – Fort Myers & Sanibel area
- Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
- The Great Calusa Blueway
- Sanibel Island
EPS 4 (11MAR) – Everglades/Keys (out of Ft Lauderdale)
- Key Lime Restaurant
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Each 20-minute episode is a collection of vignettes featuring sweeping drone shots, dramatic land and underwater footage, heroic music, and charming stories told by local tourism operators whose passion for their life’s work strikes a chord.
While an Air Canada-branded map tracing flights to the destinations feels corporate, the emphasis on small scale, eco-friendly and interactive experiences makes for engaging viewing, along with heart-warming soundbites like, “A manatee is like a 3,000-pound puppydog,” and “If humans could learn to be more like manatees, the world would be a better place.”
The docu-series aligns with Visit Florida’s belief, reported earlier in Open Jaw, that the pandemic has influenced travel tastes and also provided new opportunities for Canada’s travel advisors to show travellers their expertise and value in booking through an advisor on their next trips to the state, even if those travellers previously used a DIY booking approach to a theme park or beach vacation.