Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JPA Seeks European Tourists

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JPA Seeks European Tourists

Article excerpt

When German or British tourists think about visiting the

Sunshine State it's a safe bet that Jacksonville isn't high on

their list of places to go.

Miami, Orlando, the Keys -- those are the must-see destination

spots.

But the agency that owns and operates Jacksonville

International Airport is intent on raising the city's standing

among European travelers.

Jacksonville Port Authority officials have begun a campaign to

sell Northeast Florida as a tourist spot for Europeans who are

looking for an alternative to Disney World, Miami Beach or the

Everglades.

The JPA wants to boost tourism because it would mean more

flights in and out of the airport. Although the airport is set

up for international flights, it does not have any regular

international service.

After recently completing trips to London and Berlin to meet

with travel agents and tour operators, JPA officials said they

concluded that trying to attract Germans to the Jacksonville

area is their best bet.

German workers, most of whom speak English, have relatively

large disposable incomes, about six weeks of annual vacation

time and they enjoy visiting warm climates, said a consultant

hired by the port authority.

"Germany offers the best opportunity," said William S. Swelbar,

president of AirTrans Inc., a Washington-based consulting firm

hired by the port authority to conduct an international air

service and marketing study.

Swelbar, whose firm has been paid $41,000 by the JPA over the

past year, was to give details of his study and recommendations

to the City Council last night.

At least one local travel agent agrees that the German strategy

is a good idea.

"They would come," said Ursula Gaudette, a leisure travel

specialist at Carlson Travel Network's Jacksonville Beach office

and a native of Berlin.

"But they need to know about us. We need to promote this in

Europe."

Indeed, JPA officials have their work cut out for them.

Jacksonville ranked dead last among the top 11 Florida areas

visited by European travelers in 1994, according to a survey by

the U. …

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