The Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department plans to spend $2.2 million on marketing local beaches between March and September.
Okaloosa County commissioners approved the marketing strategy last week.
“This is a framework with which we wish to move forward and deploy funds,” Dan O’Byrne, director of the tourist development department, told the board. “I say it is a framework because every one of the individual action items will have to … percolate up through the county’s procurement procedures.”
The annual marketing strategy is one of the new requirements imposed by commissioners after discovering former tourism head Mark Bellinger’s fraud scheme last May.
The 2013 plan was drafted in the past 60 days by the county’s new advertising agency, Peter Mayer Advertising.
“The objectives for this year … are to get (Okaloosa County) back in the market,” said Ellen Kempner, vice president of Peter Mayer. “You’ve been out of the market from a competitive communications standpoint for 10 months.”
County officials halted most tourism promotions and marketing initiatives after Bellinger’s thefts were uncovered.
Kempner said the top priority is to market Okaloosa Island and Destin as top destinations during the peak and shoulder seasons.
During the peak summer season, Peter Mayer Advertising will target adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who have annual incomes of $55,000 and up and an interest in traveling, fishing, shopping, beaches and restaurants.
The agency plans to market the area across the Southeast, as far west as Texas and as far north as Ohio.
During the area’s four shoulder seasons — January to February, April to May, September to October and November to December — the agency will target senior citizens and adults between the ages of 25 and 54 who don’t have children.
The plan also calls for using $500,000 to market Okaloosa Island and Destin as a top leisure travel destination; $250,000 to sell the area to the group and meetings industry; $350,000 to revamp the county’s tourism websites; $80,000 on consumer research and $375,000 to promote the area as a Christmas destination.
Commissioner Nathan Boyles said he was pleased with new marketing strategy.
“I saw a surprising amount of cohesion in the plan that’s coming together. … And that’s something that’s been lacking in our entire approach to marketing,” he said.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow at 850-315-4438 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @KariBnwfdn.