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Ithaca, New York, so cold that tourism site directs visitors to Florida

How bad is all this ice and snow and blizzardy weather in the northeast?

So bad that the tourism office representing the communities in and around Ithaca, New York threw up its mittened hands and put a pop-up banner on its website telling potential visitors "That's it. We surrender. Go to Key West instead."

“We’re in upstate New York and used to snowy winters and cold weather,” said Bruce Stoff, director of the Ithaca/Tompkins Convention & Visitors Bureau, “but our audience is from New Jersey, Boston and New York City and those folks are frozen in place and, like us, dreaming of palm trees and someplace warm.”

On Sunday evening, with yet another storm in the forecast, Stoff called to get permission to use a beach scene from the Florida Keys tourism council’s website to redirect VisitIthaca.com web visitors down south.

“My first reaction was, ‘You’ve got to be out of your mind.’ I’d never heard of a tourism marketing organization sending people to another area’s website,” said Andy Newman, media relations coordinator for the Florida Keys tourism council. “But Florida and Ithaca are not competitors like the Keys and the Bahamas, so I said yes.”

The pop-up “We surrender…” message was posted Sunday evening but taken down mid-day Tuesday after it went viral and all the calls became too distracting for the VisitIthaca.com staff. “It was a good way for us to talk to our customers in the metro area when they’re not really thinking about taking a trip to Ithaca,” said Stoff, “We’re still inviting everyone to come here when it thaws out, but we need to get back to work.”

No telling right now when that thaw might be. But at the Florida Keys tourism council, which is seeing lots of web traffic from Ithaca’s campaign, there are thank-you margaritas waiting for the bold – and cold – tourism officials from Ithaca.

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