Tourism Up in St. Johns County | Business

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Tourism Up in St. Johns County
Tourism Up in St. Johns County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Tourism experts are cautiously optimistic heading into the 2011-2012 travel season.

From January through May, visitation was up six percent over the same time period in 2010. 

According to the St. Johns County Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB), the area saw an increase in visitors last year as well, with 3.4 million visitors spending at least one night in the county during 2010-2011.

On average, those people stayed 5 days.  They spent $634 million, including $38 million in sales tax and $5.6 million in bed taxes, according to the VCB.

Those hotel and motel bed taxes are used to pay for the bureau and their marketing campaigns, which are designed to bring more people to the area.

According to the VCB, they are trying new advertising this summer to try to keep people coming back.

They have put up billboards on I-95 advertising "Florida's Historic Coast."  The VCB is also running advertisements in movie theaters and on television stations in Orlando and Tampa, two of what they call the county's "core markets."

Atlanta and Jacksonville are also considered hot markets for St. Johns County tourism, because of the "staycations" trend, where people are taking trips that are a little closer to home. 

The VCB held their second annual "State of Tourism" meeting  Monday.

They stressed that this year, more than ever, it is vital that they keep St. Johns County on the minds of consumers.  Last year, Northeast Florida saw a bump in tourism because of the Gulf oil spill.  Industry experts say this summer, the panhandle is using money from BP to aggressively market the area to tourists and pull that market share back west. 

The VCB said part of keeping visitors here is making St. Johns County easily accessible to consumers.  Site traffic increased last year on the bureau's website.

To pull more people to that online resource, they are advertising on other internet media, including Hulu and Pandora.

Watch First Coast News tonight for more information on these developing travel trends.

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