The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau earned top tourism marketing honors in the nation, with a Destiny award from the National Council of Destination Organizations in the "Special Projects" category handed out during the U.S. Travel Association's annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations in Salt Lake City, Aug. 30.
It is the fourth Destiny award the VCB has earned in the prestigious competition, with previous honors dating back to 1994.
The pinnacle Destiny award was given to the organization for its Still Pristine campaign, designed to help sustain visitation to the Fort Myers/Sanibel Island area, mitigate lost business, and battle public misconception regarding the impact of the June 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the region, which remained untouched by the spill. The nearly 5 million annual visitors to the destination contribute $2.6 billion to the local economy, or $82 per second, and account for one in four jobs.
"Receiving this coveted national honor acknowledges our inventive creative and showcases the VCB's strategic marketing achievements. Showing the pristine beaches and natural environment of our unspoiled island sanctuary in real time and in a fun, fresh and totally unique way demonstrated the one-of-a-kind experience our destination offers visitors," said VCB Executive Director Tamara Pigott.
The centerpiece of this bold, compelling and innovative advertising campaign featured a traveler on a nine-day vacation experiencing a different part of the destination every day. A video crew chronicled his waking to a fun, new experience on the area's beaches and waterways, where he discovered pristine and awe-inspiring places and saw for himself if any were affected by the Gulf oil spill. The call-to-action for each spot included summer travel deals, vacation guarantees and flexible cancellation policies.
The groundbreaking aspect of the campaign was the airing of a series of 30-second television ads that were filmed, edited and aired the same day for nine days. The Still Pristine ads ran nationally on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, the Weather Channel and on stations in key in-state markets. They also were showcased on a variety of social and traditional media sites. TV commercials created and aired on the same day on traditional broadcast media was an assertive and powerful strategy to demonstrate the unaffected condition of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island's healthy beaches and coastline. This multi-day initiative with national broadcast outlets, when the world was watching, was a bold and compelling step to communicate the area's status to potential visitors.
Created in 1993 by USTA, the Destiny award is designed to recognize organization members for excellence and creative accomplishment in travel marketing and promotion and to foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion programs and activities.