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Orlando travel boom helps Flagler County

28 May 2011 by Daytona Beach News-Journal

With more visitors coming to Central Florida, Orlando's gain is Flagler County's gain, too.

According to a news release from Visit Orlando, the city's tourism marketing agency, more than 51 million visitors came to the home of Disney World in 2010, an increase of 10.5 percent compared with 2009. The organization said Orlando is the first U.S. destination to welcome more than 50 million visitors in a single year.

That news was also good for Flagler County, said Peggy Heiser, vice president of tourism development at the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates.

"While a lot of those visitors are coming in for the theme parks, there are a percentage of those that want to spend a portion of their vacation at the beach," Heiser said. "We're trying to grab a piece of that pie."

Heiser said Flagler County does not compete directly with Orlando for tourists but can benefit from its proximity to such a major tourism destination.

"When we market in Orlando it's not only to reach the residents there, it is also to reach those people that are already vacationing there," she said. "It certainly benefits us that they are increasing their visitors."

Marketing to the Orlando area is part of the overall tourist development strategy in Flagler County that focuses on visitors within a six-hour drive to the county.

Heiser said another factor that helps draw Orlando tourists to Flagler County is the Hammock Beach Resort, which has a sister property in Reunion.

"I've actually been trying to strategically figure out how to package a beach stay with the attractions," she said. "That's one of my strategies that I'm working on."

Orlando tourism officials credited an aggressive tourism marketing campaign for bringing in the record number of visitors.

"Travel and tourism is our No. 1 economic engine by far," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, in the Visit Orlando news release. "These numbers are tremendous. For our region to continue its recovery we need for our travel and tourism economy to lead the way."

With more visitors coming to Orlando, Heiser said there are a lot of different ways Flagler County can be marketed to Orlando visitors.

"We should be getting a bigger piece of that pie," she said.



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