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Cold in London? Tourism agency to lure Brits to Tampa Bay with sunny campaign

The $250,000 marketing campaign is anticipated to reach nearly 30 million people, mostly through a network of digital billboards.
A rendering shows what about 60 taxi cabs in London will look like when a United Kingdom campaign to promote Tampa Bay begins Feb. 4. (Courtesy of Visit Tampa Bay
Published Feb. 1

TAMPA — Hillsborough County's tourism agency is trying to lure Londoners out of the cold and into Florida by covering more than two dozen English boroughs with imagery of sunny days in Tampa Bay.

Visit Tampa Bay, along with Visit Florida and Bradenton's convention and visitors bureau, paid for just under a third of the $250,000 campaign to promote Florida across the pond. Beginning Feb. 4, photos of paddle boarders on the Hillsborough River and children playing in the Curtis Hixon park's splash pad will flash along LDN Drive, a new network of 68 digital billboards through all but four of the London's 33 boroughs.

"Anyone driving in that network of roads will see pretty stunning images of Tampa Bay and Bradenton," said Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago C. Corrada. "We compliment each other's destinations, whether you're looking for a metro, cosmopolitan like Tampa or the great beaches of Bradenton."

Nearly 1.5 million Brits visited Florida over 2017, according to Visit Florida, which has yet to release complete 2018 tourism data. The United Kingdom comes second after Canada for visitors by country. Europe as a whole leads international visitors at nearly 4 million per year.

The campaign is part of a new Visit Florida co-op program. Visit Tampa Bay and Bradenton put up $75,000 each. Visit Florida, which is responsible for marketing the entire state, paid the remaining $100,000.

"It's the big planning and booking season in the U.K.," said Corrada. "I think for what we're getting, it's well worth (the cost)."

Visit Tampa Bay's gets its funding through Hillsborough County, which collects a 5 percent bed tax on overnight stays. Over 2017, Hillsborough County collected a record-breaking $32.3 million in bed taxes.

Corrada said the regional partnership between his agency and Bradenton through the Visit Florida program is a first for both — it's also their largest United Kingdom campaign ever.

Corrada said his team will also be supplementing the London ads with social media and travel agent and tourism operator outreach. Visit Tampa Bay projects the campaign will generate at least 27.7 million views.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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