For full recovery of the Orlando brand — luring back international visitors

Orlando, USA - May 8, 2018: The panorama of Universal City Walk near the entrance of the Universal Studios theme park
To help lure them back, two ad campaigns are launching abroad to put Orlando in the spotlight.

Even when the Orlando theme parks are crowded and posting strong attendance, one key piece hasn’t returned in full numbers during the COVID-19 recovery: The international tourists. It’s the group that typically stays the longest and spends the most on vacation.

To help lure them back, two ad campaigns are launching abroad to put Orlando in the spotlight.

Visit Orlando is kicking off its “Unbelievably Real” branding campaign this summer to attract more international tourists, the agency’s leader said this week. Beginning in August, Orlando’s tourism promoter is going to start advertising the destination in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Brazil and some additional Latin American emerging markets, the agency said.

Visit Orlando spokeswoman Denise Spiegel said the campaign details are still being finalized so she was not able to say how much the ad campaign will cost.

Visit Orlando CEO Cassandra Matej made the announcement this week about kicking off the international brand campaign in front of foreign journalists in town for the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2022.

“Unbelievably Real … Those two words you might not expect to see together captures exactly what makes Orlando so special,” Matej said Sunday at a news conference in The Hall on the Yard food hall in downtown Orlando. “The blend of fantastical and authentic.”

The “Unbelievably Real” slogan is the first time Visit Orlando and the Orlando Economic Partnership have partnered together to market the region more holistically to vacationers and convention-goers as well as the business community.

Meanwhile, Brand USA and Walt Disney World are also working together on an ad campaign targeting international visitors. A new commercial features a grandfather reading a story to his granddaughter. “I hope that no matter how old you get and how big you grow,” the grandfather says as images from the theme parks flash by. “You always believe in magic.”

The Orlando Business Journal reported the key international markets for the ads will be the United Kingdom, Canada, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Germany, Greater China, Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea.

“We pride ourselves on telling great destination stories, so it was a natural decision to partner with Disney for our award-winning United Stories campaign,” Tom Garzilli, chief marketing officer at Brand USA, told the OBJ. “Disney captures the best of American culture with its classic movies, theme parks and memorable characters. What better way to share the wonder of all the U.S. has to offer than through the magic of one of our nation’s greatest storytellers?”

Brand USA and Visit Orlando’s announcements were part of IPW which brings an estimated 4,600 delegates to the Orange County Convention Center for the nation’s largest travel trade show from June 4-8.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • PeterH

    June 7, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    The USA has lost $40 billion annually in international tourism commencing with the failed ‘immigration related’ policies of Republican Donald Trump. I’m certain that the 230 mass shootings so far in 2022 are not enticing foreigners to travel to the USA in any great numbers. If Republicans had a plan to control gun violence….. maybe tourist would return to spend dollars in our economy.


    June 9, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    On the other hand, airlines are slowly adding back routes and capacity into/out of MCO.

    We’ll probably see the likes of more charter flights – with an occasional A380 jumbo jet thrown-in from time-to-time.

    Business travel is still down. Looking at forward bookings into the fall, typical convention travel is nowhere where it was in 2019 – and will probably stay down in the dumps for now.

    Those convention-dependent hotels along I-Drive are certainly felling this come early August when schools start going back and occupancy levels are forecast to drop.

    Of course, other countries around the world have different school and time-off schedules – so, in a way, it’s good to market to these countries where air service is already established to MCO.

    On the other hand, recent increased tourism levels to Orlando is really “revenge” travel – for all those who have been staying away the two plus years. Those travel patterns will start to wear off – as crippling inflation not seen since the 1970’s grabs hold of consumers wallets, the cost of fuel keeps rising – which then cancels trips for those traveling by car and interest rate hikes which trickles down to most consumers credit card rates – especially those that carry a balance – they will be getting walloped for sure.

    Going back to business – not as many are in the mood for large-type conventions as they were in years past – it’s just not the “in” thing right now.

    Attracting new businesses to open and expand in Florida? That is an “in” thing – and more and more companies are doing this every day. No need for fancy billboards in Brooklyn to encourage you to move your business to Florida – they are coming from other states in the midwest and south.

    Hopefully, the nee terminal opens by Labor Day -and there are no “kinks” in the new baggage system. I’m hearing rumors that there are some issues – but, it could be more along the lines of training.

    Anything to take the pressure of going through security – as soon as Jet Blue moves (Frontier and Spirit should move over too) that should alleviate some of the hassle factor in the very, very long TSA lines – and that’s with Pre-Check and Clear!


  • Traci Frost

    June 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    It’s nothing to do with guns. The USA is seldom in the European news.
    It’s because Europeans refuse to get the clot shot so they won’t travel until President Brandon lifts the requirements

  • Traci Frost

    June 9, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    It doesn’t matter who you market to.
    Generally people from the UK are much smarter than people from the USA and they’re not getting the clot shot for love or money!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn