Travel Writers like What They See at Beaches; They Came to Learn What the Area Had to Offer, Which Could Bring Publicity

By Fitzroy, Maggie | The Florida Times Union, February 28, 2007 | Go to article overview

Travel Writers like What They See at Beaches; They Came to Learn What the Area Had to Offer, Which Could Bring Publicity


Fitzroy, Maggie, The Florida Times Union


Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

The last time Ed Stone saw Jacksonville Beach was in 1962, when he was a college student.

Last week, the Nashville, Tenn., resident toured the Beaches again, as a business travel writer.

He was impressed.

Has the area changed?

"Lord, yes," he said. For the better.

"Cleaner, more upscale" and definitely a place he plans to write about as a destination for businesses to hold small meetings and conventions.

Stone and eight other travel writers from outside the area visited the Beaches for a two-day educational tour of the area Feb. 20 and 21. They came to learn about what the area has to offer in terms of places to stay, things to do and meetings accommodations.

While here, they stayed at the Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, ate dinner at the Brazilian restaurant Tento across First Street from the hotel, went on tours of the Beaches Museum and History Center and the American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Station, ate lunch at Joe's Crab Shack and explored the area on their own, from Mayport to Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley.

"The goal is for them to focus on the business side" of the Beaches, said Leigh Cort of Leigh Cort Publicity, who arranged the trip.

While they're here, they can also see what other features the area has to offer as a getaway destination, said Cort, who invited journalists from around the country.

She arranged for the attendees - freelancers for various regional and national publications - to see as much as they could on their whirlwind tour.

Promoting the area by inviting journalists to sample it is effective marketing, said Barbara Golden, communications manager of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Last summer, the bureau hosted a media tour of St. Augustine for six journalists to promote the nation's oldest city as a business meeting destination.

Golden said the number of stories that subsequently appeared in national publications, including Small Market Meetings magazine, Recommend Magazine, Incentives Magazine and Convention Forum, was impressive.

To introduce the writers to the city's past in a dramatic way, the bureau used actors to portray historical figures such as Henry Flagler.

A few weeks ago, 20 bureau representatives, business professionals and historic impersonators flew to New York City to take the First Coast to the Big Apple, where many national travel destination publications are headquartered. …

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