Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau seeks more visibility

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PORTLAND — The location is there, the visibility could use some work.

That’s the conclusion of a five-year strategic plan compiled and released by the Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau this month.

“People need to understand what we do, how we do it and why we do it.” CVB Executive Director Lynn Tillotson said June 20.

The CVB, established in 1982, now has about 450 members spread along the coast to Scarborough and as far west as Westbrook and Gorham.

“If you are thinking just Portland, it would not survive,” Tillotson said.

Despite increased national recognition of the Portland area as a tourist spot, local recognition could be stronger, Tillotson said.

“It is a small portion of what our market share should be,” she said. “Ironically, I still have people stare at me with a blank look when I say where I work.”

The CVB is also considering a name change to more succinctly brand the region as a destination, and Tillotson said staying abreast of digital trends and social media is one key to staying visible.

“We have been gaining a lot of momentum for some time,” she said. “We are getting a lot of press, but it is something we can’t take for granted. We have to always think about how we are going to welcome our visitors, how to make it easy and comfortable.”

The CVB’s primary welcome center is at Ocean Gateway Terminal, there’s a visitor center at the Portland International Jetport, along with brochure racks at the Maine Mall in South Portland and Portland Transportation Center on Thompson’s Point Road.

It is also critical to play up the region’s natural attractions and working waterfronts, and to push to make the area a four season destination. This includes luring skiiers and snowmobilers to the city after they leave the trails, Tillotson said.

In the city, the plans calls for more collaboration with city government and business organizations to promote tourism, and the plan calls for generating community support for a new convention center.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.