- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Philadelphia like many neighboring tourist destinations is pouring advertising dollars into a campaign to target vacationers within driving distance this winter as more people are staying close to home after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Washington, Baltimore, New York and New Jersey join the "City of Brotherly Love" in an attempt to get more heads on beds in their hotels and beef up tourism revenue after a struggling fall.
Because Washington is within driving distance of so many tourist attractions, area residents are getting inundated with marketing appeals vying for tourists' dollars.
"People are taking driving trips and train trips that are closer in," said Bob Jones, airline analyst at Onetravel.com. "It's just not fun to fly anymore. Airports are a hassle."
Americans will travel about 8 percent less this winter than they did last year, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. U.S. travelers are expected to take nearly 118 million trips of 50 miles or more away from home during December, January and February. That's down from 128.3 million trips taken last winter.
Hoping to reverse that trend, these cities are spending heavily on marketing and offering deals to attract regional travelers.
Most leisure travel is done by car anyway, according to TIA.
"In times of stress whether it's economic concerns, the attacks or rising gas prices people tend to modify their travel," said Cathy Keefe, a TIA spokeswoman. "And the industry has responded to that by offering deals."
Philadelphia is already reaping the benefits of a two-nights-for-the-price-of-one hotel package that it started Nov. 16. City officials said that the promotion had generated an extra $1.2 million in tourist revenue as of Dec. 28.
The program, which includes deals for hotel rooms as low as $89 a night, already had filled 5,470 rooms through Dec. 28.
The city, which usually doesn't spend ad dollars during the slower winter months, is dishing out $3 million this winter.
Philadelphia has heavily promoted its overnight package with television ads running in the Philadelphia, Washington/Baltimore, New York, New Jersey and Harrisburg, Pa., markets. A second round of ads began running Monday.
"We're thrilled that everyone is looking to travel again," said Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. "We're happy to see other destinations are advertising again because that gets the travel buzz going."
Washington will be focusing on some of the same markets as its Philly competitor when it begins a new winter advertising program later this month. The campaign, worth about $900,000, will focus on attracting travelers from New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston and Norfolk the city's top five markets that generated the most overnight pleasure visitors in 2000.
"We want to influence travel plans now and in the future," said Vicki Isley, director of marketing and communications for the Washington D.C. Convention & Tourism Corp.
New Jersey's travel and tourism group developed a program in November that targets residents and neighboring visitors in Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut and Baltimore to the state's attractions.
New Jersey's "Right in Your Own Background" campaign was a direct result of the effects the September 11 terrorist attacks had on tourism there, said Karen Wolfe, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission. The campaign has focused on such areas as Princeton and Cape May, N.J.
The state has also increased its television presence with more ads featuring acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco and the state's catchy "New Jersey & You: Perfect Together" slogan.
Drawing on its regional appeal, Baltimore focused its efforts on convention business by targeting meeting planners in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast corridor through postcards and telephone calls in November and December. Now, the city is running the same ads it did last year to drum up leisure travelers in the winter months.


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