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More money for Florida tourism prompts more marketing

6:08 PM, Oct 16, 2013   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A production crew shot a commercial on the streets of St. Augustine Wednesday.

It's the local part of a statewide effort to boost tourism, an industry that employs thousands of people in St. Johns County.

This particular commercial promotes St. Johns County and St. Augustine. It will play on television stations across the state as well as on the web.

The commercial's production included cameras, horses and a conquistador.

That conquistador was played by Chad Light of St. Augustine.

"A lot of us here are involved in the tourism industry and we're involved marketing our history as well as the attraction," Light said during a break Wednesday.

While not shooting commercials, Light works as the Director of Living History the Colonial Quarter Museum in St. Augustine. He is one of the 11,000 people who work in the tourism industry in St. Johns County.

"It is the single largest private sector industry," in St. Johns County Richard Goldman said. He is the Executive Director at the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

He said Visit Florida and the governor are pushing the state to reach 100 million visitors this year.

"This year is on pace for that," he acknowledged.

Last year was close, Goldman confirmed there were 91.4 million visitors.

The legislature has increased its funding to Visit Florida this year by 9.5 million dollars.

Goldman said, "For every 85 visitors we have to the state, we add another job."

Marketing for Visit Florida has increased as well.

"To the extent that we've had more dollars to spend, and we've been able to increase the visitation,  it's clear that there's a linkage between that investment," Goldman explained.

"Like anywhere else you have to tell your story. You have to market yourself," Light added.

Most folks in the tourism biz don't dress up as a conquistador like Light does, but he and thousands in the St. Johns County tourism industry depend on visitors.

"So for a lot of us, it's a full time job," Light smiled. "As you can see today, we're very busy on it."

They're busy telling people about St. Johns County and Florida -- now with more money from the state.

----To connect with Jessica Clark, follow her on Twitter at@JessicaFCN or Like her on Facebook.

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