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Chamber woos tourists to splash into Oak Harbor

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
December 21, 2012 · Updated 2:54 PM
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The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce is unveiling a new advertising campaign, “Just a Splash Past Deception Pass,” to encourage park visitors to the state’s busiest park to continue driving through Whidbey Island. / Image courtesy of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce

Business leaders will encourage visitors to Deception Pass to drive south a few miles more on their trips.

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce is unveiling a new advertising campaign, “Just a Splash Past Deception Pass,” to encourage visitors at Deception Pass State Park, one of the busiest parks in Washington state, to continue driving south on Highway 20 rather than heading north onto Fidalgo Island.

Jill Johnson, executive director for the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said officials have been talking about ways to draw the thousands of people visiting the popular park south. The Chamber of Commerce operates a visitors center at Deception Pass and volunteers notice the number of people who are visiting the park.

“We have a 9-mile tourism problem,” Johnson said, adding that many visitors don’t realize many of the services that Oak Harbor offers and that those services are in close proximity to the popular park.

She added organizers also wanted the campaign to be fun and keep a nautical aspect to it.

Johnson credited the efforts of Abbie Martin, the chamber’s graphic designer and new member recruiter, in coming up with the phrase.

Chamber members unveiled the new campaign during an Oak Harbor City Council meeting in November and Johnson said the new slogan will be incorporated into the chamber’s advertising campaigns to ensure a consistent message.

The chamber has a billboard located on Highway 20 near the Sharpe’s Corner intersection near Anacortes. The chamber also advertises in regional publications and has bought television ads as well. Johnson said the advertising is targeted in Snohomish County to promote the area as an affordable vacation. She said the chamber typically avoids advertising in Seattle because it’s expensive and the chamber would have to spend a lot of money to get noticed.

Whether the billboard will continue depends on how much funding the city of Oak Harbor will provide the Chamber of Commerce for the coming year. Johnson said the billboard space near Anacortes is costly to rent.

Johnson couldn’t comment on the specifics of the chamber’s advertising in 2013. She was just elected to the Board of County Commissioners and she is resigning her position at the end of the year.

She said that the advertising campaign could be a boost to all of Whidbey Island. If more visitors from Deception Pass continue south into Oak Harbor, it is likely they will visit the remainder of Whidbey Island on their trip.

 

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