Tourism Dollars

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Florida’s tourism industry is still reeling from last year’s devastating hurricanes, but the state hopes a $5 million campaign can change that. Officials hope the shiny new ads will lure visitors and conventioneers back and save billions in business.

Florida’s tourism agency Visit Florida is about to kick off an aggressive campaign to counter images like the devastation from last summer’s hurricanes.

Chief marketing officer Dale Brill says conventions are the big concern, with possible hurricane cancellations costing millions in lost business.

Dale says, “What we want them to do is reschedule and stay in Florida. I don’t want them going to Arizona. I don’t want them going to Texas. I don’t want them going to Las Vegas. I want them to stay in Florida.”

So with a sign-off this week from the governor, Visit Florida will spend at least $4.75 million on advertising and a first-of-its kind program called a Weather Warrantee. If a hurricane hits during a convention, the state will reimburse conventioneers for lost registration fees, higher room rates if their event has to be rescheduled, and costs of
Re-advertising the new dates. Targeted ads will also reach out to reassure families.

Sen. Mike Haridopolis’s district felt the wrath of Frances and Jeanne. He says the new advertising push will be key to keeping Florida’s $52 billion a year tourism industry rolling.

“The good news is we are open for business and I think as we have this message even further out there, we’ll fill up our convention centers, we’ll fill up our hotels,” he says.

Heavy duty advertising paid off in a big way for Florida after September 11. 2003 saw a record 74 million visitors to the Sunshine State. The sell may be harder this time around, but Florida’s tourism industry can’t afford to sit out a six-month-long hurricane season.

Businesses making up Florida’s tourism industry are expected to match the budget allotment for marketing this spring, and Visit Florida has unveiled its new web site to attract tourists at