To the editor:
Lee County's record-setting bed tax collections last year are continuing to pay dividends for the local tourism industry and the efforts of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau to attract more visitors.
In 2010-2011, bed tax collections totaled $24 million, a 6.8 percent increase over the previous year. With the additional revenue collected, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners recently approved a VCB request to add $950,000 to the bureau's budget. With the BoCC support, the VCB will use the bulk of the funding for marketing and public relations efforts to bolster the destination's exposure in key domestic and international markets.
In the U.S., we aim to take advantage of newly created co-op opportunities with Visit Florida and add a layer of targeted print exposure in niche markets. We will increase the number of in-state newspaper inserts and augment radio campaigns to build summer bookings and strengthen existing messaging in very crowded key Florida markets. In addition, we will enhance digital marketing with behavioral targeting.
The increased funding also will allow the VCB to be more aggressive in holding market share in the hugely competitive international travel market. We will boost co-op marketing with travel trade and airline partners in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to increase bookings to the destination. We will augment our public relations efforts in the U.K., Ireland and Scandinavian markets to build destination awareness. And, we've earmarked funds for co-op programs with the new Brand USA the U.S. public-private partnership responsible for promoting the United States internationally.
By all accounts, the 2012 tourist season is off to a strong start, and we look forward to these enhanced marketing opportunities helping us attract new and returning visitors to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.
Lee VCB executive director