BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - For 30 years, Brevard County tourism has been defined by shuttle launches. As NASA transitions into unmanned missions, Brevard's tourism industry will also make changes.
Residents and tourists won't find any reference to the shuttle in the latest marketing materials. Instead, tourism officials are embracing an international, multipronged approach to selling the Space Coast.
Job No. 1 is to reinforce the fact that, while unmanned, NASA is still launching rockets, which tourists are still invited to witness.
And at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex, they're using seasonal events and special exhibits to boost attendance.
John Stine, with the KSC Visitors Complex, said their goal is the same: "To evolve as the space program grows and evolves in the years ahead."
The second approach involves highlighting places of interest. These will be divided into "loops" or categories that include dining, history and an emphasis on Brevard's nature and eco-tourism.
Elisabeth Mahan of A Day Away Kayak Tours believes people are looking for outdoor adventures, and Brevard is poised for a perfect future in eco-tourism.
Mahan takes guests on kayak tours throughout the county, including a nighttime bio-luminesence tour in the Mosquito Lagoon. Paddlers can see micro organisms that light up like fireflies as the water is disturbed.
She says people from around the world find her business with little advertising, but she welcomes more customers and the added marketing they will bring.
Finally, as Port Canaveral is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, with millions of people passing through each year, an effort is being made to keep more of those passengers in Brevard County for a longer period of time.
Touting Brevard's largest and most popular attraction, 72 miles of beaches, tourism officials hope many of its guests decide to stay and check out some of those "hidden gems."
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