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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 4 years ago

Lists: The push behind the rank

Keeping Sarasota on top 10 lists requires effort from local tourism officials.
by: Jack Short Staff Writer

Sarasota is nerdy, sexy, wealthy, dangerous and a great place to retire, according to the many lists it has made in recent years. And of course, you can’t forget about Siesta Beach, ranked No. 1 by TripAdvisor. 

But when Sarasota County makes a list, it’s typically a victory for local tourism officials — and the result of their efforts.

Some recent awards, such as TripAdvisor’s designation of Siesta Beach as No. 1 in its Traveler’s Choice top 10 beaches in the world, are compiled using algorithms.

But others, such as Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Towns or SportsEvents magazine’s Sports-Friendliest Vacation Destinations, require more effort. Those  awards were the result of voting contests, and Lynn Hobeck Bates, communications manager of Visit Sarasota County, said the agency gets involved however it can.

The agency used a concerted electronic campaign to make the Sports-Friendliest Vacation Destinations list.

“We really put some sweat equity into that one,” Bates said. “We targeted sporting venues like IMG and Sarasota BMX, and event holders (who brought) soccer tournaments or rowing events.”

Visit Sarasota County set up a pep rally and photo booth in downtown Venice to help the city make Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Towns.

Visit Sarasota County is currently working to get local chefs on a Food Network list and in USA Today in recognition of holiday decor at the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion.

Alana Tomasso, board chairwoman for the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and general manager at Midnight Cove, said the lists influence visitors.

“Tourism has increased tremendously since the TripAdvisor list came out,” Tomasso said.

Occasionally, the lists give Sarasota County bad press — like when named Sarasota as the 12th most dangerous city in Florida or when  Moveto named it America’s No. 2 nerdiest small city.

“‘Nerdiest Cities’ is not necessarily one we pushed for,” she said.

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