The Journal Gazette
Saturday, March 06, 2021 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

A destination for writers, then vacationers

While we all are imagining post-pandemic travel destinations, Visit Fort Wayne has been working to draw others here. A prominent mention of Fort Wayne's “affordable urban outdoor adventures” in USA Today will help.

Jessa Campbell, marketing and communications manager for the visitors bureau, said the national publication's story came from cultivating a relationship with a Chicago-area travel writer whose “6 Scenic Midwest Road Trips for Outdoorsy Families” was first featured on the Family Vacationist website. The writer visited the city in 2018, and Visit Fort Wayne met virtually with her in November to share updated information about the city.

“We knew she was really family friendly and focused on family as her writing area,” Campbell said. “We sent her some spring break story ideas. ... She followed up to confirm the information was still applicable. (Her story) got picked up by USA Today, which was amazing because we weren't really expecting it.”

Fort Wayne shares the spotlight with Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Hocking Hills, Ohio; Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri; and Michigan's Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The kid-friendly amenities at Promenade Park are mentioned, along with The Bradley, the new boutique hotel opening this summer just a block south of the park. The Landing, Tolon restaurant and the TinCaps also merit mentions in the downtown-centric piece, which is illustrated by a stunning photo of the Freimann Square fountains and the city skyline.

Kristin Guthrie, vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Fort Wayne, said the travel and event industry has suffered under COVID-19, but things are improving.

“We've heard good stories about people looking for driveable destinations this summer, outdoors – the safe activities that we really started to promote last summer, so we feel well-positioned in some ways, but it's a big challenge,” she said.

Our growing collection of public art has proven to be a real draw, according to Guthrie, and the Children's Zoo is a “tried and true” attraction.

Campbell and other Visit Fort Wayne staff promote the city by participating in multiple events for travel writers and bloggers, Guthrie said, resulting in more than 50 travel articles in 2019. Last year, Forbes magazine featured the city.

“It's neat how it's snowballed to where they will call us and say, 'Hey, I'm doing a story on this – do you have something that ties in?'” Guthrie said.

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