BY D’ARCY EGAN
Lake Erie Shores & Islands didn’t have to toot its own horn at its annual State of Tourism Address recently at the Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Sandusky. OhioTourism Director Matthew MacLaren made a lot of noise for them, and said the state agency will expand its efforts to bring more people to the area in 2018.
MacLaren is fine tuning the “Ohio: Find it Here” campaign that helped bring $1.9 billion in annual sales to Ottawa and Erie counties served by Lake Erie Shores & Islands. Tourism supports 13,831 jobs in the area, and brings $233 million in tax revenue.
Lake Erie Shores & Islands President Larry Fletcher outlined the new initiatives in 2017, including a new and improved website, live webcams and new events that gave the region a bit of sparkle. The events included the Bash at the Bay, Dragons & Bacon Fest and the Halloween Hustle race.
Fletcher’s crews were responsible for 600 positive media mentions about the region, with a potential of more than 340 million impressions. Its social media channels continue to grow, reaching 200,00 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Centers in Port Clinton and Sandusky served about 20,000 people from 45 states and 16 countries.
Ohio tourism was a $43 billion industry in 2017, said MacLaren, supporting 427,000 jobs.Ohio tourism was a $43 billion industry in 2017, said MacLaren, supporting 427,000 jobs.
“Now we have a true regional campaign,” said MacLaren, who knows that the Lake Erie shoreline accounts for one-third of Ohio’s tourism, and the Marblehead Lighthouse, Cedar Point Amusement Park and other local attractions should be in the spotlight.
Last year, the “Find it Here” campaign focused on Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. This year, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky will be heavily targeted, as well.
There were two awards handed out by Lake Erie Shores & Islands at the State of Tourism Address. Both were won by Port Clinton businesses.
The Partner of the Year award went to Northern Exposure Gallery & Candle Company, owned by Billy and Kelly Rigoni, a Madison Street retailer with aggressive and unique marketing of its own hand-poured candles and other gifts.
Breakfast hostess Sandra Havens of Country Inn & Suites by Radisson on Route 53 at Route 2 was honored with the SHORE Award. It is given to an individual in the tourism industry who demonstrates the true spirit of hospitality, customer satisfaction and commitment to service to guests and the local community.
Kelly and Billy Rigoni of Northern Exposure Gallery & Candle Company were given the Partner of the Year Award by Lake Erie Shores & Islands at its annual State of Tourism Address recently at Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)