Skift Take

Savannah is taking the direct-to-consumer literally as part of its tourism campaign across 11 U.S. cities. It's not only selling the city as a place to visit but also a place to live.

Visit Savannah is on a trolley roadshow visiting 11 American cities to promote its city as a tourist destination and a place to live. The city’s tourism bureau is partnering with its economic development authority on the campaign in half a dozen cities.

Called “Surprisingly Savannah Tour,” the trolley tour is visiting Boston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Charlotte and other cities where it has nonstop flights, Visit Savannah CEO and President Joseph Marinelli told Skift on Tuesday. The first city was Cincinnati on May 25. The last will be in Cleveland on August 10.

As the bureau drives around, it collects data and contact information for tracking the campaign’s impact over 36 months.

“Hopefully, we’ll see air service growth, and then we will partner with our hotels to track it,” said Marinelli.  “If somebody attended, say, the Columbus Art Festival, traveled on Allegiant, and stayed at the Hyatt, we’ll know that circle and be able to market.”

In nearly all of the cities, the tourism bureau is stopping amid major festivals and events. It’s showcasing its local food, music, lifestyle, and activities. The Savannah Economic Development Authority is promoting Savannah as a place to live as much as to encourage tourism.

The campaign costs over $1.5 million. The Savannah Economic Development Authority helped cover some of the budget.

In 2023, Savannah welcomed over 10 million overnight visitors and 7 million day trip visitors, said Marinelli.

Savannah’s Growing Workforce Challenges

Savannah’s expanding quickly but it’s having challenges filling its workforce. Hyundai is about to open an electric vehicle plant outside of Savannah, providing 8,100 new jobs. In addition, Hyundai’s suppliers are expected to bring between 6,000 to 8,000 jobs, said Marinelli.

The Savannah Economic Development Authority is collaborating with the agency to win over residents and help the city meet its workforce challenges.

Getting Creative

It’s not uncommon for tourism bureaus to partner with economic development agencies in their promotional campaigns. 

Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism partnered with its state economic development corporation to incentive the filming of Top Chef in the state. Visit Detroit and Pure Michigan launched a marketing campaign around the NFL Draft with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 


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Tags: destination marketing, destination marketing organizations, georgia, tourism

Photo credit: Photo of a park in Savannah Ashley Knedler / Unsplash

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