Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
The tourist bureau website has received 108,000 visits since its marketing gag went viral.
February has been pretty cold for Ithaca, and the snow isn't going anywhere, so the winter-weary city in upstate New York decided to wave the white flag. On Sunday evening, the city's visitor bureau website put up a message advising potential tourists not to bother visiting at all. Instead, the site redirected them to a Florida Keys tourist site.
Here's a screenshot of the notice, via CNN's Brian Carberry:
Ithaca's message read:
That's it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West, anyone? Due to this ridiculously stupid winter, Ithaca invites you to visit The Keys this week. Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it's for the birds here now.
The idea was to tap into the experience everyone on the East Coast can relate to right now, Kristy Mitchell, marketing manager at Ithaca's visitors bureau, tells CityLab. Ithaca doesn't see much tourist traffic in the winter anyway, so the site's self-deprecating joke was a way to remind people that the city has a sense of humor—and to lure them into remembering that Ithaca is a fun destination when it's not buried under 17 inches of snow.
"I think people really got a kick out of it," says Mitchell. In terms of traffic, the site saw 108,000 visits since Sunday evening, that's a lot more than the 1,500 visits it gets on an ordinary February day. By Tuesday, the bureau had replaced the joke with Ithaca's tourist attractions for the site's newfound audience.
So If you think about it, even though the city threw in the towel, it ended up winning by using its wintery weakness to its advantage.
Snowpocalypse: 1. Ithaca: 108,000.