OKEECHOBEE – The COVID-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity for Okeechobee County to promote tourism, according to Sharie Turgeon of the Tourist Development Council.
Brand USA gave Okeechobee County a chance to reach an international audience via virtual events at the Brand USA Global Marketplace, Turgeron explained at the April 8 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission.
“This was given to us at a huge discounted rate,” said Turgeon.
Okeechobee County was given a individual custom pod in the marketplace. Okeechobee County’s pod included a video about Okeechobee County, a link to the tourism website, images of the area, a business card jar which allowed participants to leave a virtual business card for followup contact, the Okeechobee County Visitor’s Guide, brochures and sample itineraries for fishing and hunting.
“People can virtually walk through these pods,” she explained.
The program included Zoom calls with international marketers, tour operators and tour coordinators.
Turgeon said she talked to people from Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy Denmark and many other countries.
“A number of them followed up with me for more information about Okeechobee,” she said.
Okeechobee’s proximity to Orlando was of interest “A lot of these people don’t want to stay in one place. They want to look around,” said Turgeron.
“People I have talked to have been really surprised there is more than beaches and theme parks in Florida,” said Turgeon
“Due to covid, we’ve reinvented how to do business,” said Commission Chair Terry Burroughs.