FLORENCE — Florence/Lauderdale Tourism officials discussed their expanding focus of the Shoals region at their regular meeting Thursday, laying out the benefits of promoting the entire quad-city area as opposed to a narrower focus on the city of Florence.

The organization amped up its digital marketing efforts with the recent rollout of a new website, a project that has been in the works for the past couple years.

Wayne Emerson, of Advance Travel and Tourism, the Birmingham-based partner in the digital marketing campaign, returned to present a third-quarter report that highlighted the new website’s success.

Emerson presented several statistics showing the website’s success in driving up new visitors and increasing engagement.

“Our campaign objective was all about driving that awareness of Florence and the Shoals area in key markets throughout the Southeast,” he said.

Those markets include people in and around Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Memphis.

Emerson highlighted increased – and above-average – growth rates of text ad responses, users, sessions and overall site traffic.

“Phenomenal growth there,” he said. “It’s doing exactly what we want it to do – getting that message out there, and the word out about Florence and the Shoals.”

The new website shows a new logo featuring “The Shoals” in golden letters, with each of the four major cities listed below. The new design also incorporates more vibrant imagery and an updated event calendar, as well as more digital and copy content.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about (the expanded focus) from the community and from people who’ve told me they really think that’s the way to go,” said Tourism Board Chairman Larry McCoy.

Tourism president, Rob Carnegie, said articles from state and national media have attracted more attention because of events like the Shindig and this weekend’s ShoalsFest. Carnegie and other tourism employees have traveled to various events recently, such as Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee, to promote the Shoals area.

Tourism officials expect about 5,000 people to fill McFarland Park on Saturday for ShoalsFest. Until the end of the year, several other events and tournaments are expected to draw crowds and revenue.

Carnegie said Florence/Lauderdale Tourism’s 2020 budget is “getting close to completion.”

“We still have a lot of work to do in relationship to how we’re changing our strategy a little bit to focus more on events and tournaments,” he said. “We’ll be meeting with the finance committee over that and sort of fine-tuning that process.”

—kendyl.hollingsworth@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757. Follow on Twitter @TD_KendylH

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