If a picture says a thousand words, then a live web cam says much more. That’s the hope of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in west central Florida, which today will add a beach web cam to www.annamariaisland-longboatkey.com. The goal is to show potential visitors first-hand that the area's beaches are clean and far from the Gulf of Mexico oil slick.
Florida tourism officials say that, unfortunately,“perception” not “reality” often influences visitor decisions to visit an area or not. Even though no oil has hit Florida’s beaches during the recent Gulf of Mexico oil slick drama, some visitors are expressing concerns about taking a summer vacation in the southeastern U.S.
The Bradenton Area CVB, which represents Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, is tapping into a web cam feed set up by a local television news station to show local weather conditions. The goal is to proactively show “the beaches are clean," says Jessica Grace, the CVB's director of marketing and public relations, who also says her organization may consider adding other web cam views as well.
While Grace says several survey efforts of hoteliers in the area haven’t turned up reports of direct cancellations, she acknowledges some hotels have received calls from concerned guests asking about conditions. Those guests need reassurance and the Web cam view may ease concerns.
In addition, the Bradenton Area CVB has hired the Klages Group of St. Petersburg, FL to do research and better track visitor perceptions and any impact on the region.
“Our approach is hyper-localized,” Grace stresses. “We really want to address the geography so there is a clear understanding of where we are.”