(April 3, 2017) Edelweiss Air to Zurich, Copa Airlines to Panama City, Lufthansa to Frankfurt, and soon, Icelandair to Reykjavik. These are among Tampa International Airport’s recent air service victories that have more than doubled international enplanements at TPA and added tens of millions of dollars to the Tampa Bay region’s economy each year.
The international flights are the direct result of a strong partnership formed among the Airport, Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay and Visit St. Pete-Clearwater over the last six years.
“We absolutely would not be where we are today without the incredible support from our Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay and Visit St. Pete-Clearwater partners,” said Chris Minner, Tampa International Airport Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “The support they provide make all the difference in convincing a major airline such as Lufthansa or Copa to send a plane to Tampa.”
And those planes mean business - for hotels, restaurants, shops, theme parks, museums, theater companies, sports teams and ground transportation providers.
“Jobs and dollars go beyond the airport and the tourism industry,” said Patrick Harrison, of Visit Tampa Bay. “From dry cleaners to legal services, so many are impacted by the economic benefits of increased tourism in Florida.”
Since its launch in 2013, Copa’s nonstop service to Panama City has generated $82 million in economic impact and created 147 direct impact jobs, according to a study completed by the consulting firm ICF International . Since September 2015, Lufthansa’s flights have generated $125 million in economic impact for the state and have supported or created 786 jobs.
“Our European and Latin American visitors not only pump dollars into hotels, restaurants, transportation and tourist attractions,” said Visit Florida Vice President of International Sales and Marketing Alfredo Gonzales. “They spend on retail, medical, technology … there are hundreds of things our international visitors spend money on.”
The state and local tourism agencies play a critical role in attracting and ensuring the success of new routes at TPA by working year-round to promote the region to various overseas and cross-country markets, and by providing cooperative funding for marketing initiatives of specific routes. The Airport also provides marketing support for the routes and waives some fees for up to two years.
“The best way for the Tampa Bay area to continue its strong forward motion is through regionalism, which is often spearheaded by something that’s good for all of us – air service development,” said David Downing, President & CEO of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “We’re lucky to also have Visit Florida as such a committed partner locally, because they know what’s good for the region is also good for the state.”
Edelweiss was the first to benefit from the partnership, launching flights in 2011 and increasing service to Zurich even after their eligibility for the support expired.
Since then, the tourism partners have collaborated with TPA to help attract both international routes and new nonstop domestic routes such as Seattle and San Francisco.
“Those international and domestic connections reverberate well beyond leisure travel,” Minner said. “They attract businesses looking to relocate or expand, and plant the seed for families looking to make a move from another state.”
The airport recently set its sights on new air service targets, including San Diego, Amsterdam, Dublin, Lima and Bogota.
“We’ve got a strong team at the airport,” Minner said. “But our partnerships are what separate us from the pack when we’re making our pitch to the airlines.”