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The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel launches third promotional road tour to drive visitation

By Staff | Mar 10, 2010

For the third consecutive year, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) representing The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is conducting a year-long promotional road show to bring the popular vacation destination to prospective visitors in key feeder markets throughout the U.S.

The Island Treasures Tour features a 40-foot-long recreational vehicle (RV) wrapped in dramatic destination images designed to help position the destination as “Florida’s authentic island sanctuary.” In its first two years, the RV was on the road more than 400 days stopping at more than 200 consumer events and reaching more than 1.5 million consumers.

Its 2008 and 2009 tour stops included consumer events, travel agencies, meeting planners’ offices and the state’s legislative session in Tallahassee much of which will continue in 2010 with appearances at travel and outdoor-themed consumer shows, art festivals, boat shows, and spring training games throughout Florida and in key feeder markets such as Boston and New York.

The primary objective of the continuing tour is to increase visitation to the destination among targeted consumers with a special emphasis on first-time visitors, but it also is designed to entice increased business from meeting planners, travel agents and tour operators and to help build relationships with key legislators to further the destination’s political needs.

“We’re very pleased with how the tour performed for us these past two years, so we’re taking our show on the road again this year, ” said Tamara Pigott, VCB executive director. “Consumers are so bombarded with advertising messages that it takes something way out of the ordinary like this to capture their attention and entice their interest. Dramatically positioning our destination front and center at a variety of special events throughout our key in-state and out-of-state feeder markets gives consumers a unique opportunity to experience the magic of our destination in a non-intrusive, customer friendly environment.”

This year, the VCB is adding co-op partners to the tour and will distribute promotional literature from six program participants during its 2010 tour stops, in addition to the destination literature and premiums that already are popular with RV guests. Coming on board with the co-op program are: Royal Shell Vacations Sanibel, ‘Tween Waters Inn Beach Resort, Pointe Estero Beach Resort, DiamondHead Beach Resort, The Resort At MarinaVillage, and GullWing Beach Resort.

The Island Treasures Tour RV is fully equipped with a patio sales/display area, meeting area, VIP reception area, large flat-screen television monitors and surround sound. In addition, the RV has a solar charger for its battery; and the crew uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies and recycles as much as possible. Plus they promote recycling to consumers at all events by providing bins.

Similarly, in keeping with its mission of preserving the destination for future visitors, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel has offset the carbon footprint of its energy use and travel for the RV tour by donating funds to Go ZeroSM, a program to combat global warming launched by The Conservation Fund. Go Zero has helped the destination measure its carbon dioxide emissions, including those for the RV tour; and The Conservation Fund has offset that impact by planting native trees that absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

The Island Treasures Tour RV is driven by Gordon and Elaine Waeckerle, who have traveled throughout Florida providing a wide array of services for trade shows and conventions. Originally from St Louis, Mo., Gordon spent 36 years working for Ralston Purina and then Ameren UE before retiring to Florida to work in the hospitality and convention business. Also from St. Louis, Elaine worked for Maritz Motivation Company for 17 years before retiring to Florida.

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel include Sanibel and Captiva islands, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & outer islands, North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres.