VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young met with local business owners and tourism professionals in Franklin county on Thursday, September 12. It was the finale to a 12-stop Town Hall series of meetings that the state tourism agency sponsored to discuss the positive impacts of Florida’s number one industry and the ways VISIT FLORIDA can drive more visitors to area businesses. The statewide tour included the major tourism markets in the State including Miami, the Keys and St. Augustine. Franklin County’s visit represented the last leg of the trip.
Approximately 50 local tourism business leaders attended the Visit Florida town hall meeting in Apalachicola’s Fort Coombs Armory to hear from Young and Franklin County Tourist Development Council (FCTDC) Director John Solomon about the state of Franklin County’s tourism industry. Newly elected District 7 Florida Representative Jason Shoaf was also in attendance.
“Being included by Visit Florida as one of the major tourism markets is very important to our tourism industry here,” said John Solomon, FCTDC executive director. “We instantly became a major player in tourism in the state by being recognized by the state tourism agency.”
Solomon said Franklin County tourism numbers are on track to be one of the biggest tourism seasons ever. “We are on track to far exceed last year in terms of revenue, visitor center traffic and website metrics,” said Solomon.
Solomon attributes a significant portion of the increase to post-hurricane marketing efforts funded by Visit Florida. According to Solomon, the TDC received $174,000 in Visit Florida marketing assistance earlier this year to help get the word out that Franklin County was open for business following last fall’s Hurricane Michael. Through its contract vendors, Solomon and the TDC board launched a multi-media campaign that included digital, print, web, television and direct mail to reach a targeted demographic of potential visitors. “We have seen a noticeable increase from the areas we targeted.” said Solomon. “We are getting calls and visits from people that would probably not otherwise have known about us this year,” he said.