As we continue to move forward from the year that held travel back, visitors can be excited for everything that’s in store for the rest of 2021 and throughout 2022. Sarasota County’s reputation not only initiated the start of recovery for travel but created an avenue in which the entire community can benefit from heading into the new fiscal year.
My team at Visit Sarasota County had to engage in new methods and arrangements throughout 2021 to keep local businesses running smoothly, residents employed and visitors wanting to experience the area while always listening to our local health officials. With a wide range of tactics, VSC managed to attract a variety of visitors, whether they were interested in hopping in the car on a family vacation to Sarasota County and soak up the sun, enjoy leisure activities like kayaking or paddle boating, or just wanted to hit the best bars in the area to hear local musicians.
The overarching goals heading into fiscal year 2022 consist of four main principles that will continue to navigate tourism back on track towards 2019 levels. First is to keep area businesses thriving, by promoting local businesses on multiple levels, ensuring they’re getting the necessary exposure on why they make our destination a beautiful place to visit.
Next is standing ready to take advantage of opportunities within the area. Times have changed and the world is constantly moving and adjusting to things daily. We will continue to mine and find fun and engaging opportunities as the world continues to adjust to rapidly changing conditions.
Third is spotlighting the county in its entirety. Sarasota County includes diverse offerings and experiences, and each location within the county has its own unique story to tell. Sarasota was recently named a top 10 destination to live in the country, and these are the sort of accolades that showcase how wonderful a destination Sarasota County is. VSC will continue working with third-party entities, whether it be media influencers covering the destination or ad placements in various editorials that will continue to market our county as a destination travelers will want to be a part of.
Fourth, we have a focus on assisting the economic development of the county. We have a mission to continue bringing corporate business leaders and influencers to Sarasota County who will have an impact on our economy beyond tourism. Making sure the community businesses thrive well past our tourism efforts is a big part of this principle. To achieve this, we work very closely with the dynamic team at the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation. Our marketing helps put our community on the map, and serves up leads and opportunities for the EDC
In order to spearhead these goals, VSC uses an integrated team approach. The marketing and brand team will utilize their advertising opportunities regionally and nationally as we move forward. Getting exposure in different advertorial and editorial mediums will reveal the many attractions in the area and continue spreading the word across many regions as to why you’d want to visit Sarasota County. Social media presence, along with the website and online traction, will continue to tell stories about our community and local businesses. Earned media plays a big role in that as well, as public relations efforts can specifically express what visitors would want to soak up to make our destination special.
On the sports front, we will continue to promote the sports facilities in the area and pursue high-profile sporting events that will garner significant national and international media attention. Local businesses will have the opportunity to get involved with sport event organizers to collaborate on best practices for local exposure.
Group and international sales will create opportunities for area tourism businesses to participate in sales missions and trade events. As countries open back up for travel, our existing international partners will have the opportunity to promote why visitors should want to explore Sarasota County.
The Sarasota County brand and its amenities continued striving forward to reach back to 2019 levels of tourism throughout 2021. As national and international travel slowly picks back up, Sarasota County has the opportunity to surpass both FY 2020 and FY 2021’s economic outlook.
Virginia Haley is the president of Visit Sarasota County. She can be reached at 941-955-0991 or [email protected]