RV One Big Ad for Florida Getaways
A photo-clad recreational vehicle is ready to hit Florida highways as a roving ambassador for the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.
Its mission: Pump up the in-state visitors market – a mainstay for Lee County's $2 billion-a-year tourism and hospitality industries – in late summer and early fall, according to The News-Press, Fort Myers, Fla.
"Floridians are traveling within the state, now more than ever, because of gasoline prices," said Fran Peters, owner of the Island Vacations of Sanibel rental company, and a proponent of the tourist-bureau-on-wheels.
The 39-foot rig will venture out 20 times or more in the next 12 months, said Ric Base, chamber executive director of the islands’ chamber of commerce. He's owned the RV since before taking the chamber job in June 2006. Base is loaning it to the chamber, and will drive it to some of the upcoming events.
The RV made a cameo appearance during the July Fourth celebration at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel. Ten sponsors will pay $3,000 each to support the RV travels.
Later this month, it's scheduled for a craft show in Melbourne and a wine festival on Amelia Island. In November, the RV will go to Homestead-Miami Speedway to woo thousands of NASCAR racing fans.
While it's on the road, rubbernecking from nearby motorists is expected. The rig's exterior is covered with richly hued images from Sanibel and Captiva islands, provided by Alan Maltz. He's the Florida Keys-based photographer who has several dozen photos hanging in the passenger terminal at Southwest Florida International Airport.
Captions under the RV photos read: "15 miles of beaches; 22 miles of bike paths; 230 kinds of birds; 250 kinds of shells; 0 traffic lights."
This came from a Quenzel & Associates ad for the islands' chamber that captured a silver award from Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International.
Inside, the RV looks like a nicely appointed vacation home, "a place where people can come in, sit and relax," Base said, adding it will be stocked with copies of the islands' visitors guide and brochures from its business sponsors.
In taking to the road in an RV, the islands chamber borrows a page from the playbook of Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Beginning in December, the bureau leased a beachy-attired motorcoach and its operators for a year of appearances at more than 200 events in Florida and such key tourism feeder markets as Boston and New York. To date, bureau ad agency bvk said the "Island Treasures Tour" has reached more than 11 million potential visitors.