After yet another heavy winter snow storm blanketed the northeast in mid-February 2015, the tourism web site for the city of Ithaca, New York, officially gave up and told potential visitors that they should travel to Key West, Florida, instead:
Due to this ridiculously stupid winter, Ithaca invites you to visit The Keys this week. Please come back when things thaw out. Really, it's for the birds here now. (Still want to visit Ithaca? Are you sure? Ok.) PS. Send Us A Postcard.
The "Visit Key West" message pops up when web visitors first arrive at VisitIthaca.com. Once visitors close the pop-up window, they browse the site as normal.
While some viewers speculated that the web site had been hacked, Bruce Stoff, director of the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed to the Miami Herald that the message had been purposely placed on the web site:
Everyone up here, we're just done with winter. Honestly, this is a way to stay engaged with our customers in a way that's kind of fun and a little unexpected. God forbid
there's ever honesty in advertising.
This jape was not a paid advertisement for Florida, however. Andy Newman, spokesman for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, said that he was shocked when he received a call from the Ithaca board requesting permission to reproduce the Florida Keys tourism website, and Harold Wheeler, director of the Florida Keys tourism council, said that he had never heard of such an advertising campaign:
I have never ever heard of a destination management office pointing their websites 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.
The Florida tourism council may not have paid for the advertisement on Ithaca's website, but they certainly appreciated it:
— VISIT FLORIDA (@VISITFLORIDA) February 16, 2015
Last updated: 17 February 2015