Ithaca, New York, tourism site: Don't come here, go to Florida

The Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau website suggests the Florida Keys instead.

Story highlights

  • VisitIthaca.com is redirecting visitors to a Florida Keys tourism site
  • Site says, "Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it's for the birds here now"

(CNN)Just how cold and miserable is it in upstate New York?

It's apparently so miserable that even those whose job it is to encourage visits to Ithaca are telling tourists they probably should make other plans.
Web visitors who go to VisitIthaca.com, the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau website, will now see a pop-up banner that says, "That's it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West anyone?"
Bruce Stoff, director of the Visitors Bureau, came up with the unconventional marketing campaign.
"It was 5 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 someplace that is warm."
The message goes on to say, "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." It provides a link to the Keys website at fla-keys.com.
A spokesperson for the Florida Keys Tourism Council called the initiative "the wackiest thing I've ever seen in my life from a tourism marketing standpoint."
Andy Newman got a call from Stoff last week pitching the idea and asking for permission to use pictures of the Florida Keys homepage.
This wasn't an advertising campaign, Newman said, and no money was exchanged.
"I didn't believe he'd actually go through with it," Newman said.
But considering the weather conditions in the Keys right now, he understands.
"It's in the 70s, there's no snow and no frost on the ground," Newman said.
"Come on down. Why wouldn't you?"