Protestors jeered Ivanka Trump in Germany on Tuesday and an audience groaned when the ‘first daughter’ championed her father’s support for families at a women’s conference in Berlin.
Europe’s reaction to Donald Trump is being watched by U.S. tourism officials, who count on overseas visitors to spend their vacation dollars here. Detractors are worrisome.
The Amelia Island Tourist Development Council said European markets were up 25 percent in 2016 and the main target market – Germany – was up by 28 percent.
There is a push to grow tourism from Germany again this year. Officials are pitching media to travel to Amelia Island in hopes of receiving splashy spreads in German publications and on popular programs and social media sites. In March, AITDC attended the ITB travel trade show – described as the industry leader – in Berlin and collected intelligence about the ‘Trump Effect’ on travel to the United States, according to agenda documents for the board meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Kate Harris, director of interactive media and social media, listed information gleaned from Holger Jacobs, the editor of FVW Media, a travel trade press: “His research is showing that interest in the US and willingness to travel is declining. Forty six percent say their perception is negative and that they do not feel welcome in the US.”
While Ms. Harris reported in documents that the strong U.S. dollar is more of a barrier than political climate for travel to the United States, she said New York City cut its visitor forecast by 300,000 and is seeing a negative impact from politics and the president’s travel ban. “Words matter and what people hear affects their travel decisions…are we welcoming?”
She also reported: “Need deeds as well as words to assure industry and consumers alike.”
Ms. Harris included in the report comments from industry leaders:
German Tourism Industry President Michael Frenzel: “We have to make sure our customers can travel without restriction, no matter where they come from or whatever their religion. This is what our industry stands for and this is what we have fought for.” —
German Travel Association President Norbert Fiebig: “So far we have seen no significant sign of a Trump effect, but I cannot speak for the future…Demand has fluctuated but, with such a strong dollar, it is hard to break out exactly why.”
What Ms. Harris did not do at the meeting is talk about the president or the climate. She said things look good now and told board members that she had more information in a report they could find later.
Board Members include Omni Plantation Resort General Manager Donald Stamets, Jacksonville Airport Manager Barbara Halverstadt, David Caples, Palace Saloon owner George Sheffield, City of Fernandina Beach Commissioners Tim Poynter and Robin Lentz, Ritz-Carlton General Manager Jim McManemon, ex-officio Jack Healan, and Nassau County Commissioner Danny Leeper, who serves as chair.
Mr. Leeper, Mr. McManemon, and Mr. Healan did not attend the meeting.
2018 Budget The board’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $4.8 million. In 2017, the budget was almost $7 million. It is not really a drop because the board spent reserves, including $1.2 million for marketing and travel trade and $1 million for beach renourishment.
Beach Clean-up Budget to Double The board also said that it would double its annual budget for beach clean-up to $200,000.
New Advertising Campaign The AITDC is launching a new advertising campaign, changing its Southern Elegance campaign to a new theme called ‘Ever So Slightly’. According to documents released by the organization, shooting starts soon and ‘talent’ includes a millennial couple, young boy and girl, and grandparents. Locals may also be featured (Felix? His birthday is being celebrated Sat., April 29 at the Fernandina Beach Farmer’s Market, according an announcement). The cost for the commercial shoot and production is listed at $400,000.
Fat Bike Beach Championships The Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau in partnership with Setup Events applied for a permit with the City of Fernandina Beach to hold a bicycle championship on Oct. 13 and 14. It is a request for a second location for the event held in Wrightsville, NC. According to the permit application, organizers seek to ride on a half-mile stretch of beach or a one mile loop for racers to compete in eight-, 16-, or 20-mile races. “Fat Bike Races are gaining in popularity for their convenience and safety of not requiring road closures or causing traffic delays,” said the application. And, yes, said the permit, there would be “upbeat” music “amplified on the beach” and parking or pitched tents on grassy areas. There’s mention in AITDC documents of a DEP permit. The event was not discussed at the meeting.