Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Tourism goes regional

Three bureaus combine lures

By Brett Corbin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Pooling their resources, tourism officials from Northern Kentucky, Warren County and Cincinnati today are expected to announce the start of a “Summer Regional Campaign.”

        The joint promotion is an attempt to draw more regional visitors to all three areas.

        The officials think that a united marketing plan — to be unveiled at 10 a.m. at The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden — will be more effective than separate plans.

        Julie Harrison Calvert, director of communications for the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is time for teamwork in the tourism trade.

        “2001 was a tough year around the country, but it was especially tough in Cincinnati,” she said. With one central Web site, and a combined pool of funds to draw from, Ms. Calvert said there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. This is the first time all three travel bureaus have combined on an effort, she said.

        For the tourism industry, weather is vital. Spring was tough on many attractions, but as the clouds parted for the Memorial Day weekend, the industry had reason to look for this summer to be a good one.

        Sue Murrmann, a professor of Hospitality and Management at Virginia Tech University, said people will be traveling closer to home this summer.

        “Gas is still relatively inexpensive,” Ms. Murrman said. “People will be taking shorter trips.” She said that since airports are still difficult to get through, places like beaches will be appealing to most vacationers, and amusement parks should have a good year.

        Officials from major attractions in each of the three areas said Memorial Day weekend was a success. Leading up to the weekend, Paramount's Kings Island had only two clear weekends in two months.

        David Mandt, Kings Island spokesman, said the park had a slow start because of the weather.

        “When there is softness in the economy people tend to stay near home,” Mr. Mandt said. “That could help contribute to a good season.”

        Two cases in point last month: Chamber of Commerce public relations manager Ray Buse said Taste of Cincinnati went well and that Jammin' on Main drew record crowds.

Reasons for optimism
        “It's early in the turnaround,” Mr. Buse said. “But I think we are working towards a time when Cincinnati is viewed as America's turnaround city.”

        Mr. Buse said this summer is important for building momentum for the summer of 2003, when the Reds' Great American Ball Park will open as well as the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts.

        “We have reason to be optimistic for the summer and as Cincinnati for a tourist destination,” Mr. Buse said.

        Requests for “trip tix,” the maps that AAA develops for members, have increased by 5 percent in Greater Cincinnati, local spokesman Jim MacPherson said.

Northern Ky. attractions
        “We're looking to see a return to normal activity in the foreseeable future,” Mr. MacPherson said about the airline industry. “Airlines have put some flights back on that had been taken off.”

        Northern Kentucky also forecasts a prosperous summer.

        The Newport Aquarium had 3 million visitors in its first three years, and Newport on the Levee will open several new shops and restaurants this summer.

        “We are right on the brink of our summer season,” said Genine Drozd, public relations manager for the Aquarium and The Levee. Ms. Drozd said openings on The Levee will go in phases and give people a reason to return several times over the summer.

        “It's a two-way street right now,” Ms. Drozd said. “Some people go down to the Levee, and some go to the Aquarium. It's more bang for your buck.”

        Scheduled openings this summer on The Levee include Hollister, a West Coast version of New Albany, Ohio's Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store; The Bamboo Club; and Improv Comedy Club.

        The Cincinnati Zoo is also getting into the act. It has an exhibit called “Frogs!” on loan from New Orleans for the summer.


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