Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County lures RNC visitors with airport, chance to get away

BROOKSVILLE — With the Republican National Convention just a week away, Tampa Bay is poised to make the most of the flood of 50,000 visitors coming to town.

Whether Hernando County will be able to enjoy any of the windfall will depend on how well the county's modest marketing efforts work between now and then.

Hernando County tourism coordinator Tammy Heon said luring convention visitors to the area for recreation will be a tough task because the county isn't officially part of the five-county "host" region designated by the Republican National Committee.

Heon said despite attempts by Hernando officials and business leaders to tie the county into the event, the decision as to who could participate was decided shortly after Tampa landed the convention in 2010.

"It's a great frustration to us," she said. "Here we are, with one of the largest political events just 40 miles from us, and we can't take advantage of it."

Heon said the limitations posed by the RNC have forced her agency to take a low-cost, back-door approach to getting the word out about Hernando. So far, that has involved mostly piggyback measures with other efforts, such as Florida Suncoast Tourism Promotions, a contract company that distributes brochures for the county at area attractions, museums, RV parks and vacation spots.

Heon said the company's offer to distribute copies of the county's tourism guide to more than 350 bay area hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues before and during the convention was a stroke of luck.

"The hope is that there will be some people who want to get away from the hustle or bustle for a day or so before they go home," Heon said.

Another calling card for the county is that the Hernando County Airport will be unaffected by temporary flight restrictions over Tampa Bay that will be in place during the convention.

Airport marketing coordinator Kim Poppke said she has sent notices to charter flight companies and private aircraft owners touting the airport's hangar space and aircraft services as well as its proximity to hotels and rental car locations, in the hope of attracting those who want to avoid the congestion of a big city airport.

"We feel we're in a unique position to offer a desirable location that would benefit those who want to avoid the congestion of other airports that are closer to Tampa," Poppke said.

As a result, the airport authority has created a website linking itself to the RNC website.

Jennifer Torraco of American Aviation, an avionics company that provides maintenance and fueling services for commercial and private aircraft at the airport, believes that the temporary closing of some smaller airports in Tampa Bay may leave some aircraft owners scrambling to find available facilities.

"If everything is booked, it could be a good thing for us," she said. "We'll be monitoring that information as we go along."

Heon said the results from the county's effort to lure convention visitors won't likely be known until the last minute.

"(The convention) is very well-organized, and they have plenty of things to keep them busy while they're there," she said. "But if someone is looking to go charter fishing or golfing or sightseeing, they just might give us a try."

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

Hernando County lures RNC visitors with airport, chance to get away 08/18/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 18, 2012 10:36am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    Associated Press

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    AUTAUGAVILLE, Ala. —The screen door hangs open to Laura's Country Kitchen but the dining room is empty with no one to feed.

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  3. St. Pete Pride schedule and live blog

    Special Topics

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue …

    A local business rings in Pride 2017 with some window decorations.
  4.   Jake Faria has pitched 6-1/3 innings and has allowed one run in each of this first three starts.