Friday, August 17, 2018
Business

Where are Orlando's beaches? Pinellas tourism pitch urges visitors to head west

For years, Florida's east coast has been known as Orlando's beach.

With the shorelines of New Smyrna, Cocoa and Daytona all one-to-two hours away from the nation's theme park capital, it makes sense. But tourism officials in Pinellas County are making a targeted push to snag the title.

For the second year in a row, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater is funneling more marketing dollars into the Orlando area this summer to try to entice travelers who visit Disney World and Universal Studios to head West — not East — for a few days at the beach. It plans to spend $1 million this summer alone on a marketing pitch that also includes Jacksonville and Miami, as well as the Greater Tampa Bay market.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pinellas County tourism surged in 2016 despite challenges of Zika, Pulse shooting and more

"We've always been marketing in Orlando, but we've noticed lately that there's a higher volume of people coming to our beaches than we thought previously," said David Downing, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, Pinellas County's tourism marketing agency. "Travelers always looked east of Orlando for the beach. We want to convince them to look west, where we have two of America's best beaches (St. Pete and Clearwater) according to TripAdvisor."

Television, radio and print advertisements are circling through the Orlando metro market this summer and Visit St. Pete-Clearwater staff bought the website BeachesOfOrlando.com, which automatically takes users back to VisitStPeteClearwater.com for more information about visiting Pinellas County. In addition to year-round television/digital marketing, the local tourism group also is launching its first-ever summer/fall/winter specific campaigns in the Orlando area.

[Courtesy of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater]

Visit St. Pete-Clearwater is using this print ad to promote Tampa Bay beaches to Orlando visitors as "Orlando's beaches."

[Courtesy of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater]

Visit St. Pete-Clearwater is using this print ad to promote Tampa Bay beaches to Orlando visitors as "Orlando's beaches."

Orlando, which attracts visitors from around the globe, has already been funneling more travelers to Pinellas County beaches, data from Visit St. Pete-Clearwater shows. Overnight visitation to St. Pete/Clearwater from the Orlando area has increased more than 25 percent over the last five years.

"And that's not just seasonal visitors, it's year round," Downing said. "So we started a year ago to raise more awareness."

Summer is usually the season that Florida tourism officials market to other Florida destinations to try to capture the drive-in traveler. It's traditionally a slower time of year when seasonal guests head back north, and Floridians take advantage of weekend or summer vacation beach trips.

Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County's tourism agency, is also targeting Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Fort Myers this summer with an advertising campaign sharing the diverse attractions the county has to offer, including restaurants, the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens. The campaign has a strong focus on Spanish-speaking audiences.

[Courtesy of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater]

Visit St. Pete-Clearwater is using these digital billboards to promote Tampa Bay beaches to Orlando visitors as "Orlando's beaches."

Visit St. Pete-Clearwater is also marketing in other Florida cities, like Jacksonville and West Palm Beach this summer, but Orlando is the focus, Downing said. And it's no wonder: Orlando served 68 million travelers last year, a record that edged it past most other American destinations, including New York City. With the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and new attractions like Star Wars and Avatar lands coming to Disney, that growth won't likely slow down anytime soon.

Despite an infusion of marketing dollars from Visit-St. Pete Clearwater, it won't be easy to upend the longstanding relationship with Florida's east coast. Brevard County's tourism office has pushed the link between Orlando and its beaches for years.

Still, Downing says he doesn't see this as a competition.

"If anything we compliment each other. We see this as our next evolution in Orlando," Downing said. "We want to continue to build our relationship there."

Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] Follow @SunBizGriffin.

     
 
Comments
Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

The state has a challenge: How to spend a windfall from the Volkswagen diesel-gate scandal. The German manufacturer agreed to pay $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles and spend billions more to buy back or modify most of the cars. Nearly $3 b...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy Kedron f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

It remains our biggest economic enigma: Sluggish wage growth despite low unemployment. In a robust job market, pay rises as the supply of available workers shrinks. At least that’s the way it normally works. This time around, the ingredients appear ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to lung disease decades later, according to a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society.For 22 years, researchers have been following more than 70,000 adults who have never smoked. At the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

LARGO — Everything is on clearance inside Tampa Bay’s only Safeway grocery store. Patio furniture, 40 percent off. Beach chairs, too. Most grocery items are 30 percent off; the entire liquor store is 20 percent off.The discounts will probably get ste...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida unemployment falls to 3.7 percent

Florida unemployment falls to 3.7 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate inched down to 3.7 percent in July from June’s 3.8 percent. The state added 27,400 jobs in July, according to the latest state figures released Friday. Florida’s unemployment rate has held steadily at or below 3.9 percent ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump says he’s asking federal regulators to look into the effectiveness of the quarterly financial reports that publicly traded companies are required to file. In a tweet early Friday, Trump said that after speaking with ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,I’m a recent college grad who’s been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but I’m doing OK. I’m able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons I’m able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
SunPass users with overdraft fees can now request reimbursement

SunPass users with overdraft fees can now request reimbursement

If you’re a SunPass user and you’ve seen overdraft fees on your account, you can now ask for that money back.Florida Department Transportation spokesman Ed Seifert announced today that Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise has launched a system to process ov...
Published: 08/16/18

Nature’s Food Patch brings organic offerings to Dunedin

DUNEDIN — Nature’s Food Patch recently opened a new downtown location at 966 Douglas Ave. The new store will stock much of what is offered at the Clearwater location, including organic produce, grass-fed meat, a fresh juice/smoothie bar, organic and ...
Published: 08/16/18