CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fl. - Tourism dollars have always been a huge piece of our economy. In Charlotte County, leaders are trying to tap into another tourism market south of the border.
They're headed to Brazil!
For the water, the shopping and the natural beauty.
"Florida is a go-to destination for so many countries around the world," says Lorah Steiner, Director of Tourism in Charlotte County.
Steiner says Charlotte County has done a good job of attracting Europeans and Canadians but now they want to go further south.
"We're just entering the Brazilian market," she adds.
A market that accounts for about 1 point five million visitors and about 4 billion dollars to the state every year. But more often to cities you might expect like Miami and Orlando.
But Steiner says she's taking steps to make Charlotte County a destination for their vacations too. Recently, county leaders met with tourism experts in Brazil.
"We contracted with a company called who developed the Brazilian marketing for the state of Georgia... they are helping us train wholesalers and travel agents about what we have in Charlotte County," she adds.
From the water sports to the boutiques and the growing arts community.
"They love crafts so we want them to know about the Placida art fair... we want to pull ppl from place to place. Possibly from Tampa. Tampa's working on getting a flight possibly from Brazil," she adds.
All steps local businesses are excited about.
"I think it would be a super addition. we're well known but not internationally yet so we're trying to get to that. Punta Gorda is a little hidden treasure," says MaryAnne Henry with the Four Points at the Sheraton.