Obama victory spurs Illinois' campaign to win over tourists

The Illinois Bureau of Tourism (IBT) launched a new Barack Obama component to its ongoing "Presidential Trails" campaign following his election.

In the news
The Illinois Bureau of Tourism (IBT) launched a new Barack Obama component to its ongoing “Presidential Trails” campaign following his election. The effort had highlighted a link to past presidents that had made their homes in the state, like Abraham Lincoln.

Now it is taking advantage of the increased buzz surrounding Obama to highlight sights in the state, Chicago in particular, that factored into Obama's campaign or life. They include his Hyde Park neighborhood and Grant Park, site of his victory speech.

Why does it matter?
The association with a popular personality has the power to build a destination's reputation as a place of quality, explains Joan Brower, SVP at M Booth & Associates. The increased buzz can also spur new business and economic development in the region.

“There are a lot of ways to really build upon and leverage that halo effect to create relevance for some tourist interest,” she says, adding that PR pros, though, should be prepared to quickly take advantage of such opportunities to maximize increased interest.

Ashley Cross, an IBT spokesperson, says it is already seeing more interest from the media and potential tourists who are looking to find out more about the region due to Obama's affiliation.

“We have all these great places in Illinois that have been key milestones for his development into the next president,” she adds. “We wanted to make sure to respond to that interest.”

Cross adds that Chicago is optimistic about its bid for the 2016 Olympics, and that the increased buzz brought by Obama's connection to the region “certainly won't hurt” its chances of winning.

Five facts:
1. The ‘President-Elect Obama Trail' includes recommendations for restaurants, nightlife, and places where he spent time, including the Univ. of Chicago Law School.

2. Tourism Australia launched a $26 million global ad campaign based on the movie Australia, which opened in the US on November 26.

3. New York City launched its “Just Ask the Locals” tourism campaign in 2007. It offers online tips and videos of celebrities talking about their favorite spots in the city.

4. In 2006, Louisiana created a multimillion-dollar campaign where stars with ties to the site, like Emeril Lagasse, encouraged people to visit it post-Katrina.

5. Europe's high-speed train, Eurostar, launched a tourism campaign in 2006 to coincide with the release of The Da Vinci Code, set in Paris and London.

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