Beach towns make their case, but don't want to break up
January 20, 2011By JP Finlay
Like a jilted lover trying to make amends, last night New Hanover County’s three beach communities confronted the county tourism development authority.
“We’re not asking to break away from Wilmington,” said Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti.
Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach presented a united front to request that county tourism promotion campaigns begin to de-emphasize the term “Cape Fear Coast” and allow the beach communities clearer recognition. The beach communities would also like the opportunity to research a more effective promotional campaign.
Dan Wilcox of Carolina Beach gave a power point presentation on behalf of all three beach communities laying out the case to remove the Cape Fear Coast moniker.
“Between Wilmington and the beaches, we have something for everyone. We want to change Cape Fear Coast branding. Research shows that the slogan confuses people and costs us money. Every time our own ads point people to the Cape Fear Coast, it also points to other cities not in New Hanover County,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox clearly pointed out that the beach communities did not think that the current tourism authority, the Wilmington Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, is deficient, and Wilcox went out of his way to compliment CVB Director Kim Hufham.
Still, the beach communities make the case that the Cape Fear Coast brand, instead of individualized beach names, confuses the public. Wilcox provided research that showed New Hanover County beaches are rarely listed among the most popular in the state, if at all. Wilcox also argued that the term refers to a large swath of land that includes beaches outside of New Hanover County, thus county tax money promotes Pender, Onslow and Brunswick county beaches.
“We feel this request deserves recognition. Our names, in combination with Wilmington, are the strongest names in the state,” Wilcox said.
After the presentation, Hufham explained that the CVB is currently in the process of taking proposals for a new marketing agency. The proposals will include ideas to brand New Hanover County tourism in the best possible way, and Hufham pleaded that board members and the beach communities accept the advice of marketing professionals.
“We really appreciate the input from the beach communities,” Hufam said.
Others at the meeting wondered why just the beach communities and Wilmington deserved specific branding. Board members asked specifically if the Midtown or Monkey Junction neighborhoods should be considered for specific branding.
Though the beach community request did not receive a formal vote or recognition by the board, the mayors of all three beach municipalities expressed pleasure at the results of the presentation.
“They’ve known for a long time that we’re not happy,” Cignotti said. “We’re all going in the right direction.”