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Visit St. Pete Clearwater focuses on safety in new tourism campaign

Margie Manning

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One of 3 Rise to Shine Campaign posters with Steve Hayes, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater, in background.

Tourists want to travel to places where they know they will be safe, research from the Pinellas Tourist Development Council indicates.

Visit St. Pete Clearwater’s new Rise To Shine campaign seeks to assure tourists they will find that safety in Pinellas County.

The campaign, unveiled Friday morning at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach, is designed to build consumer confidence by showcasing the safety measures in place in Pinellas County, including a face covering mandate.

Steve Hayes, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater, with Pinellas County leaders at a Friday news conference at Clearwater Beach.

“We are wearing our masks. We have physical distancing. We are doing all the proper hygiene, and we’re doing that as residents and we also expects our visitors to do the same thing,” said Steve Hayes, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater. “That’s a critical point of this Rise To Shine campaign. In order for our community to shine more we have to rise up to the occasion.”

The nearly $2 million campaign was developed to reach visitors in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas. It will include TV and radio, PSTA wrapped buses, a presence at both St. Pete/Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport, outdoor billboards, digital and paid media including Google Search, Snapchat geo-filters, Connected TV and more.

The St. Pete Pier is one of the destinations featured in the marketing material.

“My city is fortunate to have a place like the St. Pete Pier during a time like this because we know based on research of the Tourist Development Council that what people are looking for is exactly what the Pier can offer — a lot of beautiful outdoor spaces that connect to nature,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

St. Petersburg officials have been working with all of the destinations in the city to make sure they are able to open and can do so safely, he said. “Even if they are not directly involved, they are indirectly involved” in the Rise To Shine campaign, Kriseman said.

Assuring visitors they will be safe is an economic imperative because tourism is the No. 1 employer in Pinellas County, accounting for one of every 10 jobs, said Pat Gerard, chair of the Tourist Development Council and chair of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.

Small mom and pop businesses are the engine that keeps tourists coming here, said Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski. Tourists should know that those businesses are held to high standards, added Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy.

“If all residents and visitors follow protocols of distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing as much as possible, and just being respectful of one another, they’re going to be able to experience all the great things from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Tarpon Springs and everything in between and do it in a safe manner,” said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard

The number of newly confirmed cases of Covid-19 has dropped in recent days. As of Friday, there’s been a total of 20,259 cases in Pinellas County, an increase of 82 cases from Thursday. There were no new deaths reported Friday. The total number of deaths in the county attributed to Covid-19 since the pandemic began is 669.

Those declining numbers show the Pinellas County mask ordinance is effective, Gerard said.

“As much as I know people don’t want to wear masks and be restricted like that, I don’t want to have to close businesses down again. I prefer that we keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working,” she said.

All Pinellas County businesses (not just tourism-specific) are invited to participate in the Rise to Shine campaign. From buttons for employees, decals for restrooms and tables, and digital graphics, VSPC is producing collateral for businesses to display onsite to show support, and spread the Rise to Shine messaging. To learn more about the Rise to Shine campaign or to sign up to participate, visit VisitSPC.com/RisetoShine.

Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard speaks to the importance of tourism in the County at Rise to Shine launch.

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