When web visitors go to VisitIthaca.com this week, a banner pops up with a headline "That's it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Florida Keys anyone?"
The offbeat concept is the brainchild of Bruce Stoff, director of New York's Ithaca/Tompkins Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"It was five degrees below zero this morning when I woke up," Stoff said Monday. "Everyone in the northeast is beaten by winter now and we're dreaming of being some place that is warm. The majority of our visitors come from the metro northeast and we're all sick of blizzards and cold."
The popup banner goes on: "Due to this ridiculously stupid winter, Ithaca invites you to visit the Florida Keys this week. Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it's for the birds here now." VisitIthaca.com visitors have an option to get details on Ithaca with a final message: "P.S. Send us a postcard."
Harold Wheeler, director of the Florida Keys tourism council, called the weeklong initiative bold. "Certainly, it's unconventional marketing wisdom. I have never ever heard of a destination management office pointing their website's visitors to another portal. That said, our temperature in the Florida Keys right now is in the low 70s and we certainly appreciate Visit Ithaca highlighting that," said Wheeler.
Despite the temperature variation, Ithaca and Key West have common ties. "Ithaca is considered a creative Mecca and Key West has the same vibe," added Stoff.