To the editor:
After months of data crunching and collaboration with tourism industry experts and partners, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau recently completed its 2013-2016 Strategic Plan in concert with consulting firm High Lantern Group.
The plan, which the Tourist Development Council has approved, provides us with a strategic roadmap for promoting The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in the coming years.
We've analyzed current trends, evaluated our assets and challenges and thought long and hard about the broad strategy we'll use to ensure the continued success of the local tourism industry and maintain its role as the county's leading economic driver.
We've established three bold goals: Increase annual tourism spending to $3 billion, grow RevPAR by 15 percent and grow fall visitation by 15 percent. To help us reach those goals and to operate with a shared vision for tourism, our roadmap outlines four strategic imperatives:
- Develop the tourism pipeline. We must expand our research efforts to define the next generation of travelers and encourage efforts to expand local air service.
- Grow shoulder and off-peak visitation. Specifically, we should focus event-planning, marketing, public relations and social media efforts on promoting off-season visitation, as well as attracting first-time visitors through meetings, events and sports.
- Protect Lee County's natural assets. Always mindful of the importance of our natural assets in marketing our destination, we strive to be a leader in ecotourism and vow to accentuate our environment in promotion and branding. We must also establish an issues management campaign to address risks to the area's natural assets.
- Make tourism a shared community imperative. We will work hard to educate and engage residents and local businesses about the economic benefits of tourism as part of a "tourism story" for the county. We must also develop community-wide objectives for intra-county transit.
I recognize that these four strategies are aggressive, yet it's important to remember that they are the broad brush strokes. The details will come each year when we develop our annual sales and marketing plans. Here we will outline the specific tactics we will use to accomplish the broad strategies.
I'm excited about our strategic plan and I consider it sustainable blueprint for tourism in Lee County. I'm also mindful of the fact that the VCB can't accomplish these goals alone. We need your help. You provide the accommodations and recreational assets that coupled with our pristine environment, attract visitors to the area. I encourage you to enhance your properties/rooms/attractions and join us in advocating for our community in the competitive tourism industry.
Lee County VCB