County launches digital Naturally L&A visitor attraction campaign

This is one of the images associated with the new Naturally L&A visitor attraction campaign that launched on digital platforms last Friday.

Lennox and Addington County is in the process of rolling out a new digital campaign designed to use the area’s natural beauty to enhance its profile and increase tourist visitation.

The County’s director of community and development services, Stephen Paul, said the Naturally L&A campaign launched Friday and will be rolled out over a two-week period. It is considered the first step in a multi-year effort targeted at visitors from Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

“Our ultimate goal is two or three different things: We want to create more awareness of Lennox and Addington as a place to visit, that’s our No. 1 priority. To do that, we need to increase website traffic and be more active on social medial channels,” Paul said. “We want to grow that over the next few years.”

For several years, the County had partnered with the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association and had supported its visitor attraction efforts with $20,000 annually in funding. Paul said the organization closed at the end of 2017 and that allowed his department a chance to reinvest the money and work proactively.

“For us, it’s fair to say it’s breaking ground with this step forward,” he said. “It’s new and it’s funding we’re certainly excited about as it offers an ability to continue that tradition.”

Community and development staff worked with marketing company 1idea Media and Design Inc. and an economic development advisory group to develop the concept. Paul said the branding was easy to come by.

“When we looked at the wonderful assets Lennox and Addington County offers like Bon Echo Provincial Park, our trail systems, the dark-sky viewing area, and the cycling opportunities we offer, it made sense to focus on nature and Naturally L&A. We have a great environment outdoors and it also speaks to the nature of the people in L&A and the experience they can have when visiting our shops, downtown areas, and heritage attractions.”

The campaign will feature conversation from bloggers who will travel across the county to write about tourism assets. The commentary includes fishing, cycling, astronomy, boating, hiking, bird watching, and visiting local businesses. For example, Paul said Ashley Rae will offer information for anglers.

Paul said the stories will shed light on unexpected or hidden gems.

“For example, if a potential traveller in the GTA views a digital advertisement about Hell Holes Nature Trails and makes a choice to take his or her family to see it, we create the opportunity to further engage them with many other things to do, thus providing them with both familiarity and the potential of repeat visits in the future.”

For 2018, Paul said the successes of the campaign will be measured by increased website traffic and social media engagement. His department also plans to talk to hotels, tourism operators, and retailers to see if there’s an increase in business or overnight stays as a result of the focused, targeted marketing efforts.

Asked how important tourism is to the local economy, Paul said it’s very difficult to capture the impact empirically, but notes there is always potential to improve. One way of doing that is by hosting events like national fast pitch and barefoot waterskiing championships this summer that bring people here for a specific purpose, but offer spin-off benefits for businesses. Another way is to promote experiences.

A side benefit of a campaign like Naturally L&A is that it can actually help shape future attraction investment.

“The wonderful thing with regard to digital media and social media is the analytics are all there to know where your traffic and engagement is coming from,” Paul said. “This will give us a baseline to compare, target, and do more specific work as well. It’s a great opportunity to learn who is the most interested in our community.”

That could also pay dividends in attracting not just visits, but also relocation and long-term investment.

“Im a big believer that it’s an entire package when you’re looking at a community. The work we’re doing will create awareness to bring new visitors and it will promote the area as a good place to work, to invest, and to enjoy as a tourist. Our ultimate goal is to do all those things.”

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