Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Wave of Cheering for Tourism Campaign; Bid to Get Businesses to Buy into Attracting Visitors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Wave of Cheering for Tourism Campaign; Bid to Get Businesses to Buy into Attracting Visitors

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

Visit Jacksonville officials made it clear at their "destination celebration" annual event Wednesday that they were cheerleading recent increases in tourism numbers.

Officials at the event, which featured turquoise-blue lighting and a cresting wave framing a huge projection screen, also unveiled plans to get more local businesses to financially buy into the effort to lure more visitors here.

About 400 community and business leaders gathered at the Prime Osborn Convention Center downtown as Visit Jacksonville CEO and President Paul Astleford outlined a new program designed to invite more businesses to spend money with the tourism organization, but at a more affordable price.

"We've revamped Visit Jacksonville's partnership model," Astleford said to a packed convention hall. "For the first time ever, you'll be able to have choices of different marketing and sales packages to help grow your businesses."

Astleford said Visit Jacksonville already has about 400 partners - businesses that buy marketing and advertising packages that feature their companies in regional and national campaigns targeting tourists. But the idea behind the new program is to get more businesses to spend money with Visit Jacksonville.

Astleford said many companies and businesses simply couldn't afford the generally flat-rate fees for advertising and marketing with Visit Jacksonville. The new program was unveiled in what Visit Jacksonville called a "wave of impact" theme. Astleford said area businesses can take part in the tourism advertising in a boutique concept where prices could be much less expensive.

"In the past, there's been only one partnership level. And either you took it or you didn't," Astleford said. "Now, the partners have a choice of various things that they can participate in whether it's promotions that we do, cooperative marketing that we do and the whole issue of how they get involved in direct sales efforts. …

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