State tourism powerhouses are aggressively stepping up their plans to court Hispanic and black travelers, coveted for their growing purchasing power.
One sign of the marketing push: Talk by Disney executives that Cinderella and Snow White may soon learn Spanish so the characters can more intimately interact with tourists at Orlando's theme parks.
The outreach comes as tourism leaders, including state promoter Visit Florida, are looking for ways to boost the state's appeal, especially given sluggish growth of out-of-state tourists and traditionally big-spending international visitors.
The Walt Disney Co. hired African-American and Hispanic ad firms for the first time this year to create a new line of television spots and print ads designed to attract people who identify with those groups.
"We wanted to make sure our advertising was as compelling as possible," said Xiomara Wiley, Disney's vice president for multicultural markets worldwide.
Targeted marketing to blacks, Hispanics and gay and lesbian audiences is growing as Florida attempts to reinvent itself as a fresh destination to groups whose collective purchasing power is projected to swell to more than $2 trillion by 2010.
"Groups are seeking, patronizing and utilizing services and destinations that recognize their affinity and market directly to them," said Roger Dow, executive director of the Travel Industry Association of America. "The more they do so, the more prominently they appear on marketers' radar screens and the more services are offered."
Travel takes off
Travel by Hispanics in the U.S. is growing at a rate of 20 percent compared with 2 percent for total travel in the U.S., according to a 2003 TIA report, the most recent available. Travel by blacks is growing by 4 percent, double the rate of total travel, according to the report.